Sudan’s SPLM-N release nine Misseriya herdsmen

Deputy Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo praises the release nine Misseriya herdsmen held captive by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu since April. The release was mediated by President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Sudan's Misseriya at the signing pre-migration agreement with South Sudan's Dinka Malual in Aweil, December 2017 (UNDP South Sudan)

Deputy Chairman of Sudan's Sovereignty Council Mohamed Hamdan 'Hemeti' Dagalo praises yesterday's release of nine Misseriya herdsmen held captive by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu. The release was mediated by President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Misseriya youth protesters involved in a border dispute with the local Hamar tribe in West Kordofan recently stormed the Um Adara oil field, forcing the station to halt its activities and detaining the oil workers. One of their demands was the release of the nine herdsmen of their tribe.

Hemeti, who is also Commander-in-Chief of Sudan's infamous Rapid Support Forces (RSF), thanked President Salva Kiir for his efforts to mediate the herdsmen's release. He also valued the response of the SPLM-N El Hilu leadership to release the herdsmen and send them to Juba in preparation for their transfer to Khartoum.

The herdsmen were captured last month after fighting in South Kordofan and were being released 'on humanitarian grounds' to return to their families, SPLM-N Secretary General Amar Amon said during a news conference in Juba.

Amon stressed that the SPLM-N does not have any problems with the herdsmen "as individuals", but that they have problems with the government.

Hemeti further renewed his call on the leaders of rebel movements that did not sign the Juba Peace Agreement in 2020 to engage in the peace process "in order to preserve the security and stability of our country".

Former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and El Hilu shared a joke during Hamdok's visit to Kauda in 2020 when it looked like trust was being rebuilt (RD)


Juba Peace Agreement

SPLM-N El Hilu, with its stronghold in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, and the mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) under the leadership of Abdelwahid El Nur, which controls parts of the Jebel Marra in Darfur, did not join the peace negotiations in Juba. 

El Hilu described the Juba Peace Agreement, signed by the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) alliance of rebel movements, as “a quota deal between the elites and the RSF generals, which has nothing to do with the crucial issues of concern in Sudanese society”. 

El Nur categorically rejects entering any peace talks before security in the region has been restored whilst El Hilu separately entered into negotiations following a visit of PM Abdallah Hamdok in January 2020, but withdrew half a year later in protest of Hemeti's chairmanship of the government delegation.  

In a statement on November 16, 2020, SLPM-N El Hilu reaffirmed its position that “the path to peace begins by addressing the roots of the Sudanese crises, foremost of which is the issue of separating religion and state to ensure that religion is not exploited in politics and the repetition of previous experiences that have damaged the unity of the Sudanese peoples and led to the secession of South Sudan.” 

An attempt by the Communist Party of Sudan in May this year to persuade El Hilu and El Nur to form a political alliance failed. 

Women and children protest in Kauda, Nuba mountains, against the targeting and killing of Nuba people across Sudan (social media)


Nuba Mountains conflict

The Nuba Mountains, an area of hills located in South Kordofan and the eastern part of West Kordofan, are home to a number of indigenous ethnic African groups, collectively known as Nuba. West Kordofan is also populated by the Misseriya.

The SPLM-N has fought against Omar Al Bashir's dictatorship, which heavily repressed the Nuba people and was always in support of Arab herding tribes whilst looking down on 'African' tribes, often sedentary farmers.

During the dictatorship of Omar Al Bashir, the Misseriya were supported by Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP).

Nuba residents fear that South Kordofan’s Nuba Mountains will become a ‘second Darfur’ as farmers continue to face attacks by militant herders.

In Darfur, a genocide has taken place against indigenous farmers by militant Arab herders supported by the regime of ousted dictator Omar Al Bashir. As Janjaweed militias, they killed many African farmers. In recent years, attacks by herdsmen against Darfur’s farmers and non-Arab herding groups have continued, resulting in many deaths.