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Sudan sends 10,000 RSF to collect arms in North Darfur

October 13 - 2017 EL FASHER / KHARTOUM / KUTUM
Arrival of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital of North Darfur, El Fasher, on 12 October (RD)
Arrival of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital of North Darfur, El Fasher, on 12 October (RD)

The Sudanese government deployed a force of 10,000 Rapid Support Force (RSF) soldiers to North Darfur to contribute to the forced weapons collection in the state. United States officials said to support the nationwide process.

The 10,000 paramilitaries are equipped with 400 military vehicles, North Darfur Governor Abdelwahid Yousif Ibrahim said during a press conference on Thursday. “With the name 'New Dawn' these forces come from North and South Kordofan to enhance the security and stability in the state, and to implement the second phase of the collection process starting this month.”

The commander of the RSF in North Darfur, Maj. Gen. Yahya Ali Mohamed, added that the convoy's primary objective is contributing to the collection of weapons throughout North Darfur in cooperation with other security agencies. The RSF is Sudan’s largest militia.

In addition Mahmour Babikir Himed, commander of the 11th Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Infantry said that the trafficking of people “remains one of the problems that plague the state”, confirming that the army will work to beat the criminals.

US supports arms collection

In Khartoum, Second Vice-President Hassabo Mohamed Abdelrahman briefed the United States Charge d'Affaires Stephen Coates on the process of the weapons collection in parts of Sudan.

Coates confirmed in a press statement yesterday, after being received by Abdelrahman at the Presidential Palace, the support by the US for the initiative. He pointed out the importance of cooperation with communities to create a favourable and healthy social environment.

The US official said that interested American businessmen have sent inquiries to the embassy about investments in Sudan. He pointed to the expected arrivals of American businessmen who look for available investment opportunities in Sudan.

Armed opposition

According to the Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC) led by militia leader Musa Hilal, the disarmament of civilians in Darfur “clearly targets Sheikh Musa Hilal and his tribe”. Hilal considers Khartoum’s decisions to disarm civilians and irregular combatants as a direct assault against his forces, the Border Guards and allied militiamen.

“The RSF militias of the 'New Dawn' have arrived, but we are ready to fight back.” - RAC lieutenant Ali Rizgallah

Lt. Col. Ali Rizgallah of the RAC said that the target of the Rapid Support Forces in North Darfur is to follow“the agenda of Vice-President Abdelrahman to attack our sites in Kutum and Kabkabiya”. The arrival of the paramilitary force may lead to an explosion of the situation in North Darfur. “The militias of the 'New Dawn' arrived in Kutum yesterday. But they do not intimidate us, and we are ready to confront them if they attack our sites.”

On Saturday the RAC claimed that Khartoum plans to capture or assassinate Musa Hilal and to defeat his forces. It said that the implementation of the plan has been assigned to the RSF.

Last month, a clash between RSF and paramilitary Border Guards in North Darfur led to the killing of seventeen Border Guards near the Sudanese-Egyptian-Libyan border. Further fighting was avoided when the RSF replaced all its forces at the gold mine where the siege took place with other forces from the local Mahameed clan. This reportedly led to a halt of the clashes because the fighters discovered “they were brothers and cousins”, a RAC leader explained Radio Dabanga.

Compulsory collection

The second phase of the collection of illegal arms and cars follows the voluntary collection stage which took place in Darfur and the states of Kordofan.

In South Darfur, weapon collection committees have made inventories of all the administration that have received weapons. According to the governor more than 2,000 weapons were voluntary collected from people in the state. In West Darfur, El Geneina locality alone collected 2,500 firearms by the first of October. The period of voluntary collection has been extended in North Kordofan until 15 October.

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