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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Controversy in Darfur over new leader El-Sissi

March 23, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — El-Tijani El-Sissi, the head of newly formed rebel Liberation and Justice Movement, is the center of controversy among the traditional leaders and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Darfur as he is chosen to represent the Fur tribe which is otherwise not represented in the current peace talks in Doha.

Abdel Wahid Al-Nur, leader of the legacy rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), and Ahmed Abdel Shafi of SLM-Juba both boycott the process asking to disarm the government militia and to provide security before taking part in the peace process.

The former governor of Darfur and UN staffer has been one solution for involving someone as representative of the largest ethnic group in the troubled region. Politically, he was member of the Umma party but has been living outside the country for a while.

In a statement issued Tuesday in Khartoum, the Popular Association for Darfur Tribes for Peace and Unity, a pro-Khartoum body, hailed the framework agreement signed by the Sudanese government and the LJM stressing the leading role of El-Sissi to unify this group and to undertake this move.

“This agreement is a real deal welcomed with satisfaction and respect of all the tribes of Darfur and organisations; yet it found support and full respect of the Sudanese people and government,” said the statement signed by Omda (tribal title) Jibril Hassan Adam.

The statement stressed that a tribal delegation led by Magdoum (tribal chief) Salah Al-Fadel, travelled to Doha to express its support to the agreement and to praise the leadership of El-Sissi because he “is one of the known leaders of Darfur, but also from the heart of the indigenous administration.”

The LJM, a group formed from different factions in Darfur in Libya initially under the name of SLM-Revolutionary Forces, included initially rebels mainly from the ethnic Zaggawa group. The US envoy at the time blamed Libya for failing to include rebels from the Fur ethnicity and sought to gather rebels in Addis Ababa to promote this tribe last August.

However, as the Addis Ababa Roadmap group failed to join the talks, maintaining that unity does not mean participating in the Doha peace process, El-Sissi came to appear a more agreeable leader to negotiate with, in the eyes of many of the talks’ facilitators. The new coalition leader is based in Addis Ababa where he works for the UN.

In a statement to Sudan Tribune, the Association of IDPs and Refugees of Darfur, a pro-rebel organization led by the influential Sheikh Abdallah Tahir, the IDPs in Darfur camps reiterated their rejection of the second Doha agreement signed on March 18 and distanced themselves from El-Sissi.

“Sissi does not represent us; he is out of Sudan and Darfur since 25 years and he does not know what happened or is happening today in Darfur camps: atrocities, repression and the violations of human rights occur on a daily basis here,” the IDPs said.

Their committee, which is generally supportive of Abdel Wahid Al-Nur, further alleged El-Sissi was in Khartoum last year for talks with Sudanese officials but never visited the camps to hear the affected population or to know something about their plight.

“We reject any agreement he signs in our name and we are not going to abide by it,” said the IDPs who had likewise massively rejected the Abuja peace deal in May 2006.

The largest IDPs organization said the Sudanese army and its militias are still waging violence against them mentioning the recent attacks in Jebel Marra where more than 10.000 persons have been displaced. There are “36 villages were attacked during the last two weeks and 80 villages since one month”, they said.

The statement said “Khartoum tries through this parody of peace to surround the International criminal Court” which issued an arrest warrant against President Omer Al-Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Darfur peace mediation is expected to organize a second forum for the civil society in Doha and seeks to involve all the different stakeholders from tribal leaders, IDPs, and local organizations as well as independent figures. The rebels criticized the first conference held last November saying it had only involved pro-government groups.

The mediation seeks to involve all the parties of the civil society in this second meeting scheduled for April but the rejection of IDPs to take part in the process may jeopardize their participation once again.

(ST)