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Sudanese rebel leader slams South Africa’s withdrawal from war crimes court

Sudanese President Bashir delivers a speech in El-Fasher, North Darfur during a ceremony to declare an end to 13 years of conflict in Darfur, 7 September 2016.
Sudanese President Bashir delivers a speech in El-Fasher, North Darfur during a ceremony to declare an end to 13 years of conflict in Darfur, 7 September 2016. Ashraf Shazly/AFP Photo

The South African government’s decision to leave the International Criminal Court is “shameful” and effectively supports the genocide against people in Sudan, according to Abdul Wahid al-Nur of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). In a wide-ranging interview in Paris, Abdul Wahid told RFI about his recent meeting with Chadian President Idriss Deby, the importance of Libya’s General Khalifa Haftar and the use of chemical weapons in Darfur.


“South Africa of Nelson Mandela, of discrimination, of a long history of apartheid, supporting [President Omar] al-Bashir, who’s committing genocide against African people in Sudan, in Darfur, in Nuba Mountains, in Blue Nile - it’s as if they’re compensating Bashir to kill us and disregard the struggle of our people,” says the SLA founder and chairman.

Interview: Abdul Wahid al-Nur, Sudan Liberation Army

Abdul Wahid was recently in Berlin to discuss the situation in Darfur with President Deby. The Chadian leader had previously been at odds with Sudan’s Bashir over the conflict in Darfur, however ties have normalised in recent years. Additionally Chad hosts some 300,000 Sudanese refugees, according to the UN.

"Deby proposed to us, very clearly, to join Khartoum's dialogue," says Abdul Wahid, “he insists that we have to join”. But the SLA leader rejected Deby’s proposal, reiterating that Bashir needs “stop the ongoing genocide”. Abdul Wahid had previously shunned dialogue with Khartoum when other prominent Sudanese rebel groups signed a roadmap earlier this year aiming to establish a permanent ceasefire and pave the way for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The Chadian president has proposed further talks with the SLA in N’Djamena without pre-conditions, according to Abdul Wahid, who describes Deby as playing an important role in “fighting terrorists in the region”. Furthermore, “Deby has a good relationship with General Haftar”, he says.

Abdul Wahid sees Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar as a bulwark against Islamist extremists and says he’s ready to commit SLA fighters to Haftar’s cause, although they have yet to establish a relationship.

"We will open our hands to him, to coordinate with him, with others, in order to fight this terrorist organisation ISIS [the Islamic State armed group],” says Abdul Wahid. “As a movement we have enough military personnel, whatever he agrees, we will coordinate with him, and we will fight these Islamic fundamentalists wherever they are," he adds.

Chemical weapons, ceasefire and people-smuggling

The SLA leader is urging further action following a report from Amnesty International on the use of chemical weapons in Jebel Marra, Darfur. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has said it will “examine the reports”, but Abdul Wahid says “the evidence is there”. He calls on the UN Security Council to establish a commission of enquiry as well as take steps to remove chemical weapon stockpiles.

Syria and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein gave chemical weapons to the Sudanese government, according to Abdul Wahid. The Sudanese government has rejected Amnesty’s report with President Bashir accusing the rights group of spreading “empty lies”.

When asked about the government’s announcement of a ceasefire in Darfur, Abdul Wahid says there is none, adding that the Janjaweed militia, who he considers part of the government’s forces, are “systematically targeting civilians because they’re indigenous and they’re black”.

The European Union is also misguided in its engagement and support to Khartoum on people-smuggling, according to Abdul Wahid. The EU established the Khartoum Process to “improve migration management” and “curb the trafficking of human beings and smuggling of migrants” partnering with five African countries including Sudan.

Abdul Wahid says “Bashir is part of the problem” and the Sudanese government is not actually using the financial support as intended, "the money is not going to stop human trafficking," he adds.

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