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Sudan Tribune

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Fears of renewed tribal clashes following large-scale mobilization in East Darfur

May 9, 2015 (El-DAEIN) – Thousands of armed tribesmen from Ma’alia and Rizeigat tribes have assembled in East Darfur state amid fears of renewed clashes between the two sides who have been fighting for several decades.

Maalia and Rezeigat delegations arrive at Al-Tawisha in North Darfur before the signing of a cessation of hostilities deal on 22 August 2013 (Photo: Hamid Abdulsalam/UNAMID)
Maalia and Rezeigat delegations arrive at Al-Tawisha in North Darfur before the signing of a cessation of hostilities deal on 22 August 2013 (Photo: Hamid Abdulsalam/UNAMID)
The governor of East Darfur state, al-Tayeb Abdel-Karim, said in press statements on Saturday that the mobilization of the armed tribesmen could lead to the deadliest clashes ever between the two sides.

He stressed that his government has sent large military reinforcements to create a buffer zone between the two tribes and prevent a security breakdown.

Abdel-Karim also pointed to the formation of joint committees including politicians and traditional administration leaders to convince the tribal crowds to disperse.

Reliable sources revealed to Sudan Tribune that the federal government plans to deploy two army battalions to the area backed by two warplanes to monitor movement of the conflicting parties.

Eyewitnesses also described the situation in El Daein as “very tense”, saying commercial market in the town has been closed on Saturday.

They also said that foreign aid groups have evacuated their workers from the town to South Darfur capital of Nyala.

The governor underscored that he would not hesitate to impose state’s authority and enforce the law in the state, calling on conflicting parties to listen to the voice of reason and not to try and acquire rights by force.

He also urged the residents of East Darfur not to fall prey to tribal, regional and racial discourses, urging people to promote a culture of peace and coexistence among various ethnic components of the state.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that military planes are conducting intensive flights over areas of armed tribal crowds to monitor the situation closely after a security committee coming from Khartoum failed to convince the two tribes to disperse the crowds and leave the camps.

Tribal fighting has intensified in four of Darfur’s five states during the past two years leading to thousands of deaths and injuries and forcing over 300,000 people to flee their homes. They are usually triggered by land disputes, pasture rights and fighting over water resources. More than 7,000 people were killed in those clashes since 2007.

The conflict between the Rezeigat and the Ma’alia tribes in East Darfur state is considered one of the longest and most deadly in the region.

Both the Rezeigat and the Ma’alia are pastoralist tribes, based in East Darfur. The centre of Rezeigat territory is in El Daein town, while the Ma’alia centre is in Adila, the second largest town after El-Daein.

Last month, 20 people were killed and several others injured in renewed clashes between the two tribes in East Darfur state.

In August 2014, 200 Ma’alia and 123 Rezeigat tribesmen were killed in clashes which took place in the Umm Rakubah area in East Darfur’ Abu Karinka locality.

Armed clashes between the two tribes in 2013 killed over 149 people and forced an estimated 51,000 people to flee their homes and seek shelter in Adila, Abu Karinka and Ed-Daein localities.

Last March, the reconciliation conference between the two tribes, which was held under the auspices of Sudan’s 1st VP, Bakri Hassan Salih in the locality of Merowe in the Northern state, stalled over the right of land ownership known as Hakura (traditional land grant).