SUDAN WATCH: Darfurian Nur covets post of Darfur's Vice President - Darfur rebels turn against each other (David Blair)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Darfurian Nur covets post of Darfur's Vice President - Darfur rebels turn against each other (David Blair)

If SLM/A's Nur signed the Darfur Peace Agreement, who would take up the position of Vice President, SLM/A's Minnawi or Nur? I've yet to find a news report that answers this question. David Blair, in his Telegraph report from Jebel Marra June 16, 2006 points out that Nur (a Darfurian) is believed to covet the post of Darfur's Vice President. Minnawi (a Chadian) is set to take up the post because, unlike Nur and the other rebel group JEM, he signed the Darfur Peace Agreement. Are they now using their people to slug it out between themselves until winner takes all? Copy of David Blair's report:

On a sun-baked plateau, strewn with razor-sharp volcanic rock, hundreds of Darfur's rebels chanted a new war cry across their desolate mountain stronghold.

"Minni is betraying his people," they cried. "Down with Minni!"

These black African rebels in western Sudan rose against the regime three years ago but they were not denouncing their enemies in Khartoum.

Instead, their target was Minni Minawi, leader of a rival faction of their own Sudan Liberation Army (SLA).

A split in the rebel movement has transformed Darfur's civil war. The battle-lines in this conflict, which has forced at least two million people to flee their homes and claimed up to 300,000 lives, either through violence or disease, were once easy to describe.

The insurgents, drawn largely from Darfur's black African tribes, fought against Sudan's Arab-dominated regime and its notorious "Janjaweed" militias.

Today, by contrast, most of the fighting is taking place within the SLA. Clashes between rival factions account for the great majority of the 50 incidents recorded by the United Nations in the largest of Darfur's three provinces since May 1.

The delivery of aid is already being sabotaged. Rebel commanders have closed the Binasa area to aid workers, denying essential help to about 60,000 people in a region once considered relatively safe.

The signing of a Darfur peace agreement in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, last month triggered the split. Mr Minawi's faction endorsed the deal along with Sudan's regime but Abdul Wahid al-Nur, his main rival within rebel ranks, refused to sign.

Tribal rivalry lies at the heart of the split. Mr Minawi is from the Zaghawa tribe, which has provided most of the fighters in the rebellion, while Mr Nur is from the Fur tribe, the largest among the region's six million people.

The name Darfur means "home of the Fur" and Mr Nur's followers believe they have a special right to denounce the peace deal and continue fighting.

"The Fur are the owners of this land," said Sultan Suleiman Hassab al-Rassoul, who holds sway over a large area of the Jebel Marra mountains, which provide an impregnable fortress for the SLA's Fur faction.

About 300,000 people live here, all under the tight control of leaders such as Sultan Rassoul.

"Please assure the world that all the people here are standing by Abdul Wahid and rejecting the signing of the peace agreement," said the Sultan.

Under the agreement, a larger slice of Sudan's oil revenues would go to Darfur, with Khartoum providing GBP 180 million within 12 months and an extra GBP 120 million every year thereafter.

A politician from Darfur, probably an SLA leader, would occupy the fourth highest position in Sudan's regime, serving as "special adviser" to President Omar al-Bashir.

But Mr Nur is believed to covet the post of vice-president. He also wants more oil money, supposedly to compensate those who have suffered in the fighting.

In their Jebel Marra bases, his rebels proclaim their willingness to fight on. They shy away from the fact that, since the agreement was signed, their principal targets have been other rebels, not the regime.

"If he had signed, he would have betrayed his people," said Salah Adam Tor, who commands SLA forces loyal to Mr Nur in the Finna area of Jebel Marra.

"We are not against peace. We want peace. But it must be a just peace and we will fight to the last until we achieve that." Jebel Marra is filled with those have suffered in this war. Awatif Adam Abar, 34, lost four of her five children when government forces raided her village three years ago, forcing her to flee into the mountains.

An Antonov bomber opened the attack, destroying her home and killing her son, Abdusalaam, eight.

"I was at the well when the bombs fell. I came back to the house and I found Abdusalaam lying dead," she said. "His body was in pieces. I took his head with me. I wanted to bury some part of him in a grave."

Asked what she wanted for her country, Mrs Abar replied: "Peace."
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June 16 2006 Telegraph Timeline of Darfur conflict



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