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Sudan’s RSF detain Musa Hilal militiamen on Darfur-Libya border

August 13 - 2017 MISTAREEHA
Musa Hilal (with glasses) in North Darfur (file photo)
Musa Hilal (with glasses) in North Darfur (file photo)

A number of close followers of former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal were detained at the Darfur-Libya border last week.

Members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) held Mohamed El Rayes, a bodyguard of Hilal, and six others on their return from Libya.

“Seven Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC) members were detained upon their return from Libya. They were transferred to Nyala, capital of South Darfur, and from there to Khartoum on Friday. The two Land Cruisers they were travelling in were confiscated,” Haroun Medeikheer,, spokesman for the RAC led by Hilal told Radio Dabanga.

According to the spokesman, the bodyguard and six members of the Border Guards militia went to Libya for personal reasons three months ago.

He called on the Rapid RSF to stop monitoring the Border Guards and warned that the detention “will lead to undesirable consequences”.

Medeikheer,announced that the Border Guards will hold a conference in the area of Mistareeha, the stronghold of Hilal’s clan, on Saturday. “In the conference, we plan to discuss our stances concerning the detention of our fellow men, the integration of the Border Guards in the government’s Rapid Support militia, the Darfur disarmament campaign, and the recent Maaliya-Rizeigat incidents in East Darfur.”

Janjaweed

Hilal, the most notorious janjaweed leader, belongs to the Arab Mahameed clan in North Darfur. In early 2003, when Darfuri rebels took up arms against the government, he was serving a jail sentence for stirring up ethnic conflicts and mass killings of innocent civilians in the region.

The then Vice-President Ali Osman Taha released Hilal and assigned him as main recruiter of Arab youth in Darfur. Thus he became the head of new groups of loosely organised militiamen, called janjaweed, by their victims, the African population in the marginalised region that mainly consist of farmers. With the full backing of the government, Hilal’s militias targeted unarmed civilians in the region, attacking African Darfuri villages, but they rarely came near forces of the rebel movements.

In 2006, the UN Security Council imposed financial and travel sanctions on the militia leader, who was offered lucrative administrative positions by the government in Khartoum at the time. Mid 2013, however, Hilal returned to North Darfur, where his fighters, including the militiamen of the Border Guards, launched widespread attacks on government forces and allied militias.

Hilal established the RAC in Saraf Omra locality in North Darfur in March 2014. The council was compiled from native administration leaders and militants from various tribes in the area.

In December that year, when he announced his own administration of the Jebel Amer gold mining area in North Darfur, he strongly denounced Khartoum’s policies in Darfur. “In particular, the Arab youth should be aware of this. In reality, they are not waging a jihad and defending the nation as the NCP leaders say. The Sudanese rulers only want to defend their interests, their personal agendas, and their positions,” he said.

According to a UN Security Council report in April this year, Hilal is profiting from vast gold sales in Darfur.

Disarmament

Last month, the Sudanese government announced a nationwide disarmament campaign, to be started in Darfur and Kordofan. The army and the allied paramilitary Rapid Support Forces will be tasked with collecting illegal arms and unlicensed vehicles from civilians in the regions.

The authorities also plan to integrate members of the various government militias into the Rapid Support Forces, a militia that was created in 2013 to fight the various rebel groups in the country. The Border Guards strongly oppose the idea. According to the RAC, the plan to collect illegal arms from civilians in Darfur “clearly targets Sheikh Musa Hilal and his tribe”.


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