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Khartoum Seeks to Contain Sudan Revolutionary Front - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Sudanese parliament speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir speaks to members of the Sudanese parliament gathering to vote on a national budget on December 19, 2012 in Khartoum. (AFP PHOTO/EBRAHIM HAMID)

Sudanese parliament speaker Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir speaks to members of the Sudanese parliament gathering to vote on a national budget on December 19, 2012 in Khartoum. (AFP PHOTO/EBRAHIM HAMID)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Informed sources have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir, speaker of the Sudanese national assembly, has called on his government to “act like their Ugandan counterpart” and create an alliance with Ugandan opposition groups to contain the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF). This revelation comes at a time when the Sudanese rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) condemned Ibrahim Tahir for issuing a general amnesty law for those carrying arms in Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile, considering it an attempt to “throw dust in our eyes.”

The sources, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat under condition of anonymity, quoted Ibrahim Tahir as saying that his government can create an alliance with the Ugandan opposition to influence Kampala and force it to abandon its support for the SRF. However, he did not give any details about the exact efforts that could be carried out by Khartoum to this end.

Khartoum has previously lodged complaints to the African Union against Kampala, accusing it of supporting insurgents with the aim of bringing about regime change in Sudan, and has even dismissed some Ugandan embassy staff from its territory. Khartoum and Kampala have also accused each other of harboring and supporting each country’s respective insurgent groups. Khartoum says that the Ugandan president supported the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), led by the late John Garang, during the Sudanese war that lasted for more than 22 years and ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, which in turn led to the secession of South Sudan. Meanwhile, Kampala claims that the Sudanese government supports the Lord’s Resistance Army of Uganda, led by Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The sources explained that relations between the two countries had recently experienced a state of fragile stability, but now they had once again become tense with Khartoum accusing Kampala of embracing the SRF, which includes the northern branch of the SPLM, JEM, and other opposition factions. The SRF has openly declared that it is working to bring down the Omar Bashir regime. In January 2013 it signed a document entitled “The New Dawn Convention” with the National Consensus Forces (NCF), a group which includes the main opposition parties in Sudan, pledging to overthrow the regime.

In related news, the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo has launched a protest against the Egyptian foreign ministry, regarding the ruling Freedom and Justice Party’s decision to receive a number of JEM leaders in Cairo. The Sudanese Embassy considers Egypt’s recognition of a movement fighting against the Sudanese government, and seeking to weaken the Sudanese state, as “unacceptable”. Sudanese Ambassador to Egypt Kamal Hassan Ali has demanded an explanation from Cairo.

Meanwhile, JEM has strongly denied any involvement in the recent attack carried out by militants inside South Sudan’s Ida refugee camp in Unity State. It has called for an investigation to bring the perpetrators to trial and to invoke the strongest penalties upon them.

News agencies had reported clashes between South Sudan police and an armed group last Saturday at Ida camp, leading to the deaths of two soldiers and two children living inside the camp.

Jibril Adam Bilal, spokesman for JEM, told Asharq Al-Awsat that his movement condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the attack on the refugee camp, describing it as a crime worthy of the maximum penalty. He stressed that his movement had nothing to do with the incident, and that it is committed to international humanitarian law with a track record to confirm this. He pointed out that JEM has no presence in camps for refugees or the displaced, especially Ida camp, as it lies within the borders of a neighboring country.

Bilal also used the opportunity to comment upon Sudanese parliamentary speaker Ibrahim Tahir’s recent announcement of a general amnesty law for those carrying weapons, after having held consultations with the head of the national intelligence and security apparatus. Bilal described the announcement as an attempt by the Sudanese government to “throw dust in our eyes”, and a public relations ploy. He added, “There was a presidential decree in 2009 for an amnesty for all prisoners affiliated with JEM, after the Omdurman process in 2008 to pressure for this.” He went on to say, “The speaker of the parliament has the authority to abolish the emergency laws in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and the Blue Nile, but he cannot pass a general amnesty law.” Bilal then remarked, “President Omar Bashir is wanted by the ICC and most of those in power are war criminals, it is them who need to be pardoned.” Finally, he said, “Those in the revolutionary resistance do not need an amnesty law because they are demanding their rights, first and foremost the overthrow of the regime, and then the establishment of justice and equality.”