SUDAN WATCH: W. Sudan, Darfur: JEM leader returned to Libya after being detained by Chadian authorities at N'Djamena airport for 19 hours

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

W. Sudan, Darfur: JEM leader returned to Libya after being detained by Chadian authorities at N'Djamena airport for 19 hours

CHAD refused entry to Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim on his way back to the battlefield on Wednesday (19 May) ordering him to return to Libya after a 19-hour diplomatic standoff at the country's main airport.

"He is in the air," top JEM official al-Tahir al-Feki told Reuters, adding he was returning to Tripoli after 19 hours on board a Libyan Afriqiyah airlines plane.

Chad's Interior Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said his country did not want JEM passing through: "We have re-established relations with Sudan so we cannot allow these undesirable people to pass through Chad," he said.

Chadian airport authorities had detained Mr Ibrahim, denying him access to Darfur via Chad, a JEM spokesman told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Wednesday.

Authorities at N'Djamena airport refused entry to Mr Ibrahim and a number of other JEM members who had arrived from the Libyan capital Tripoli at 1:00 am (0000 GMT), JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam told AFP.

"When they landed, Chadian authorities confiscated their passports and refused to let them into Chadian territory and ordered them to go back (to Libya)," Adam said, speaking by telephone from London.

Adam said Chadian authorities wanted Ibrahim to fly back to Tripoli en route to Doha.

Also, Adam said Ibrahim had refused to return to Libya, as had the crew of the Afriqiyah airlines plane, and the rebel leader was currently sitting inside the aircraft with his retinue at N'Djamena airport.

Authorities in Chad were trying to get Ibrahim and the JEM delegation to the Qatari capital Doha, the venue of recent peace talks between the JEM and the Khartoum government, Adam said.

Source: See related reports below. Note that the BBC reported it is unclear why Mr Ibrahim had travelled from Libya to Chad; JEM had been told after the signing of the February agreement that it was no longer welcome in Chad.

Khalil Ibrahim

Photo: A spokesman from the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said that their leader Khalil Ibrahim, seen here in 2009, is being held by Chadian airport authorities, denying him access to Darfur via Chad. (AFP/File/Ibrahim al-Omari)

Related reports

Khalil Ibrahim Detained By Chadian Authorities in N'Djamena Airport
SRS - Sudan Radio Service - Wednesday, 19 May 2010:
(Cairo) - The Chadian authorities have been holding Dr. Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the Darfur anti-government group, the Justice and Equality Movement, at N’Djamena airport since Wednesday morning.

Dr. Ibrahim was on his way from Egypt to his movement’s stronghold in Western Darfur.

A senior JEM official, Mansour Arbab Yonis, spoke to SRS on Wednesday from Egypt.

[Mansour Arbab Yonis]: “The Chadian authorities have been holding him at N’Djamena airport since this morning (Wednesday) since 2 a.m. and he is still being held and he has been denied entrance to N’djamena. We urge the international mediation team, particularly the AU-UN mediator Djibril Bassole to intervene, in order to transport our brother from N’Djamena to the field, but brother Bassole has not taken any serious measures yet.”

Arbab described the move by Chadian authorities as a conspiracy to force JEM to go back to the negotiation table with the government.

[Mansour Arbab Yonis]: “We explain this move as a conspiracy, because they want to force JEM back to the talks by force, without any progress in the mediation. We have informed the Chadian foreign affairs ministry about the movement of the JEM leader, but we were shocked by this weird and new behavior, and we are very sorry about this behavior.”

In January, Sudan and Chad signed a military agreement in Khartoum about border security. According to the agreement, the two countries have deployed 3000 troops to prevent the movement of the each country’s anti-government groups.

The agreement also stipulated that Chad and Sudan will chase out and stop hosting anti-government groups in both countries.

Persistent attempts by SRS to get a reaction from the Chadian authorities were unsuccessful.
Chad denies entry to Darfur rebel leader
The Associated Press (AP) - via The Washington Post - Wednesday, 19 May 19 2010; 12:26 PM by Sarah El Deeb (AP Writer Dany Padire in N'Djamena, Chad contributed to this report) - excerpt:
(Cairo) - Chad's Minister of Interior Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement, was coming from Tripoli on a Libyan flight. Security units surrounded the plane and denied him entry into the country.

"He was not welcome in Chad," the minister said.

Ahmed Hussein, the spokesman for the group, said Chadian authorities seized Ibrahim's travel documents and those of his accompanying delegation and told them to return from whence they came.

The flight crew, however, refused to take them back to Libya because of their lack of documents.

"This is a serious precedent," Hussein said, calling the move illegal.

He called on Chad and the joint U.N.-African Union peace mediator to intervene to end the standoff and allow Ibrahim back into Sudan's western Darfur region, the site of a seven-year rebellion that has killed hundreds of thousands. Chad is a common route to Darfur.

Hussein said the decision to stop Ibrahim at the airport was a "conspiracy" to force JEM to return to peace talks, hosted by the Gulf emirate Qatar.

He said Chad can't hand Ibrahim over to Sudan because it would risk "grave consequences."
Darfur rebel chief detained in Chad: spokesman
Agence France-Presse (AFP) - Wednesday, 19 May 2010 - excerpt:
(Khartoum) - Authorities at Ndjamena airport refused entry to Khalil Ibrahim and a number of other JEM members who had arrived from the Libyan capital Tripoli at 1:00 am (0000 GMT), JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam told AFP.

"When they landed, Chadian authorities confiscated their passports and refused to let them into Chadian territory and ordered them to go back (to Libya)," Adam said, speaking by telephone from London.

"The pilot refused to let them onboard the plane because they did not have the necessary documents. Khalil and his delegation are currently in Ndjamena airport," Adam said.

Khalil and his delegation had planned to head to Darfur through Chad, the only passage for them into the war-torn region of western Sudan.

Authorities in Chad are now trying to get Ibrahim and the JEM delegation to the Qatari capital Doha, the venue of recent peace feelers between the JEM and the Khartoum government, Adam said.

Those talks were suspended after the JEM accused the army of attacking its positions last month. The government then issued a warrant for the arrest of Ibrahim.

Adam said that by moving the JEM delegation to Qatar, Chad was "pushing the group to sign an agreement which is against the interests of the people of Darfur."

In January, Chad signed an agreement with Sudan to normalise relations, ending years of tension between the neighbouring countries.
Darfur Jem leader Khalil Ibrahim stopped in Chad
BBC News - Wednesday, 19 May 2010 17:15 UK- excerpt:
The leader of Darfur's main rebel group has been prevented from entering Chad while en route from Libya to Sudan.

Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) leader Khalil Ibrahim was told at Chad's airport to return to Libya.

A top Jem official told the BBC Chad is trying to "pressure" Jem into resuming peace talks with Sudan.

Jem has always had strong ties with Chad, but this has changed in recent months as relations between Chad and Sudan have improved.

The passports of Mr Ibrahim and other Jem members were confiscated and the Jem leader is currently at the airport in Chad's capital, N'Djamena.

The Chairman of Jem's Legislative Council Eltahir Adam Elfaki told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that Chad's actions had not been a surprise.

"We have never been not suspicious," he said.

"We always suspect that sometimes deals that may be done behind the corridors would affect the relation [between Jem and Chad]."

In the past, Jem has regularly used Chad as a base for its troops and a transit point for its officials.

But in February, Chad's President Idriss Deby agreed with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir to stop supporting rebels in each other's country.

Sudan has long accused Chad of backing rebels in Darfur, while in 2008, Chad accused the Sudanese of helping a rebel group which almost reached N'Djamena, before being beaten back.

It is unclear why Mr Ibrahim had travelled from Libya to Chad.

Jem had been told after the signing of the February agreement that it was no longer welcome in Chad.

And some observers believe that Chad's refusal to admit Mr Ibrahim is a sign that President Deby intends to respect his agreement with Sudan.
Darfur rebel leader caught in airport standoff
Reuters - Wednesday, 19 May 2010
(Reporting by Andrew Heavens; editing by Philippa Fletcher) - excerpt:
(Khartoum) - A Darfur rebel leader was caught in a diplomatic standoff in Chad's main airport on Wednesday after authorities refused to let him enter the country on his way back to the battlefield, his movement said.

Chadian officials met Khalil Ibrahim, the head of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), when he flew into the Chadian capital N'Djamena from Libya at 1 a.m. (0000 GMT). They confiscated passports from his party and ordered him to return to Tripoli, JEM's spokesman said.

The showdown is a major setback for the rebel group which in the past had strong links with Chad's leadership and regularly used the country as a base for its troops and a transit point for its officials.

JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam told Reuters the incident was part of a "conspiracy" by the Chadian government and international mediators against the movement to force it to return to floundering peace talks with Sudan's government.

Adam said Ibrahim had refused to return to Libya, as had the crew of the Afriqiyah airlines plane, and the rebel leader was currently sitting inside the aircraft with his retinue at N'Djamena airport.

"We would like to make it very clear to the Chadian authorities that we condemn their behavior and we condemn their actions and we urge them to allow Dr Khalil to go to the field," said Adam.

"We have information that the Chadian authorities are in contact with Djibril Bassole (the head of Darfur's joint U.N./African Union mediation team). They are trying to hijack Dr Khalil and the others to take them to Doha."

"If they did that kind of thing they would make a very big mistake."

No one was immediately available to comment from Chad's government or the mediation team.

Adam said Chadian authorities wanted Ibrahim to fly back to Tripoli en route to Doha.

Sudan has asked Interpol to circulate an arrest warrant for Ibrahim in connection with a JEM attack on Khartoum in 2008 but Chadian authorities have not said whether they would cooperate.
Chad prevents JEM leader from entering into Ndjamena orders him to leave
Sudan Tribune - Wednesday, 19 May 2010 - excerpt:
(LONDON) - Chadian authorities have refused to allow Khalil Ibrahim leader of the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to enter into Ndjamena and confiscated his passport.

Khalil was left Egypt yesterday to Libya from where he flow on regular flight into Ndjamena but when he arrived in the Chadian capital the authorities confiscated his passport and ordered him to return to Tripoli, Ahmed Hussein Adam JEM spokesperson told Sudan Tribune.

"They even refused him to leave the plane but the crew said they can’t take him back to Tripoli unless he has valid travel documents," he added.
Here is a copy of a noteworthy comment posted to Sudan Tribune article (see above) entitled "Chad prevents JEM leader from entering into Ndjamena orders him to leave":
19 May 21:34, by silake comba
This behaviour by the Chadian authorities can be interpreted in one case as a preasure on Khalil to go back to the negotiations table in Doha and in this case the Deby regime must have taken this decision either as a result of direct instructions or under preasure from Khartoum or Doha itself. In all cases, it is an unethical conduct and it is a sign of complete lack of morals on the part of Deby who had been rescued, as a regime, by Khail more than once. I think, this incident is expected for a person who is working for others using the Darfurian cause as a truck. At the time when Darfurians of all sectors have been paying the price with soul and blood, Khaill is using these sacrifies to meet the ambitions and interests of Islamists in Khartoum and beyond.He has also been serving the very regime of Deby. This shall be the fate of somebody like Khalil who betrayed the cause of Darfur in favour of his masters in Khartoum and N’jamena.What makes Khalil not to negotiate in good faith is the fact that he is not concerned with or about the Darfurians tragedy. I’m sorry to say this but this is the very truth.
silake Ali Comba, CAIRO
judybamirgi@gmail.com
JEM and GONU Trade Insults Over International Justice
SRS - Sudan Radio Service - Tuesday, 18 May 2010:
(Cairo) - The Darfur anti-government group, the Justice and Equality Movement, says President Omar al-Bashir should comply with the ICC warrant arrest instead of calling on Interpol to arrest their leader.

Recently, the Government of Sudan's Justice Minister, Abdel Bassit Sabdarat, urged international law enforcement agency to arrest Khalil Ibrahim.

Khalil Ibrahim addressed members of the Sudanese community in Cairo on Thursday.

[Khalil Ibrahim]: “This situation reflects Khartoum‘s weakness because I was with them for five years inside Sudan and they attempted to assassinate me more than ten times but all attempts failed. I also visited them in Khartoum and now I'm going back to the front. If they want to arrest me, let them arrest me at the front line.”

In an interview with SRS in Cairo, JEM commander Suleiman Sandal said that the Interpol can not interfere in political crises, it can only solve criminal cases.

[Suleiman Sandal]: “Interpol can not intervene in political crimes, Interpol deals with the normal crimes and our conflict with the government is political and military. It is a legal war and it’s being carried out according to international law and they can’t catch him in Egypt because JEM has a presence in Egypt. Egypt is a free country and can host any movement and any person it likes, but if the government wants Dr. Khalil Ibrahim to face justice, let al-Bashir first go to the ICC because he is accused by the ICC of war crimes.”

Suleiman Sandal was speaking to SRS on Thursday from Cairo.
Darfur rebel leader 19-hour standoff ends
Reuters - Wednesday, 19 May 2010 5:25pm EDT
(Reporting by Andrew Heavens, Opheera McDoom and Moumine Ngarmbassa in N'Djamena; editing by Ralph Boulton) - excerpt:
(Khartoum) - Chad refused entry to a Darfur rebel leader on his way back to the battlefield on Wednesday, ordering him to return to Libya after a 19-hour diplomatic standoff at the country's main airport.

Chadian officials had stopped Khalil Ibrahim, the head of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), when he flew into the Chadian capital N'Djamena from Libya at 1 a.m. (0000 GMT).

They destroyed the passports of everyone in his party and ordered him to return to Tripoli, Ibrahim said.

The showdown was a major setback for the rebel group which in the past had strong links with Chad's leadership and regularly used the country as a base for its troops and a transit point for its officials.

"He is in the air," top JEM official al-Tahir al-Feki told Reuters, adding he was returning to Tripoli after 19 hours on board a Libyan Afriqiyah airlines plane.

"We are still hopeful he will be able to return to the field," he added.

Libya also shares a border with Darfur.

Ibrahim said there was a "conspiracy" between the Chadian government and international mediators to force JEM to return to floundering Qatar-hosted peace talks with Sudan's government.

Chad's Interior Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said his country did not want JEM passing through:

"We have re-established relations with Sudan so we cannot allow these undesirable people to pass through Chad," he said.

Khartoum has long accused Chad of supporting and arming JEM during the seven-year conflict. But the oil-producing countries began a rapprochement at the end of 2009, and in February Chad brokered a ceasefire and an initial peace deal between JEM and Sudan's government.

JEM is one of two rebel groups that took up arms against Sudan's government in 2003, accusing it of neglecting the remote western region of Darfur and marginalizing its population.

The movement is dominated by the Zaghawa tribe, who live in Darfur and neighboring Chad. Ibrahim has close family links to Chadian President Idriss Deby. JEM also helped Deby fight back two rebel attacks on N'Djamena.

In a statement, Sudan praised the Chadian move against Ibrahim and said it showed Deby's commitment to the agreement not to allow any armed rebel movement to use its territory to launch attacks on Sudan.

"(Khalil Ibrahim) headed toward N'Djamena with no prior arrangements with the Chadian government," the statement added.

Ibrahim said that he refused to be flown to Qatar as proposed by the U.N.-African Union mediation of the faltering Darfur talks.

"They are trying to hijack me and force me to fly back to (Qatar's capital) Doha," Ibrahim said. "But we already signed two agreements and the government breached both those agreements and they are fighting us."

No one was immediately available to comment from the mediation team.
Darfur Group ‘Disappointed’ With Chad
Voice of America (VOA) by Peter Clottey - Wednesday, 19 May 2010 - excerpt:
The Darfur-based Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said its leader, Khalil Ibrahim, was prevented from entering Chad and kept on an airplane for at least 12 hours before Libya came to his rescue.

Ahmed Hussein Adam, JEM’s spokesman, told VOA the group is disappointed with the way their leader was treated.

The United Nations and African Union (UN/AU) chief mediator is mandated to facilitate the return of the JEM leader to Sudan as stipulated in a recent peace accord signed between the group and President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir’s government.

“Dr. Khalil consulted with the leadership of JEM and finally he accepted the offer of the Libyans on the condition that from there (Tripoli) he will go to Darfur and he will go to Sudan. That action did not remove the responsibility of Djibril Bassole, the chief mediator. Because, still now, we want Djibril Bassole to take that responsibility and to facilitate the arrival or the departure of Dr. Khalil from Tripoli to Darfur,” he said.

Officials in Chad stopped JEM’s leader in the capital, Ndjamena and prevented him from using the airport as a transit point on his return trip to Sudan.

The Darfur-based rebel group said Chadian authorities destroyed travel documents belonging to its leader, as well as that of his entourage, and ordered him to return to Libya’s capital, Tripoli.
News from SRS - Sudan Radio Service
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