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A talk with JEM leader Jibril Ibrahim | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Dr Jibril Ibrahim, the Deputy Leader of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front [SRF] and the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement [JEM] has denied the participation of his movement in the battles between the armies of Sudan and South Sudan in Hijlij in the mid -April. He said that Khartoum was in a state of hysteria in which it found it difficult to distinguish rationally the parties to the conflict. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat that the Doha Document which led to an agreement between the Government and the Liberation and Justice Movement would not be suitable as a basis for negotiations with his movement in any future stage because it is confined to Darfur at a time in which the SRF is striving for a comprehensive solution for the entire country. The text of the interview follows:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Khartoum says that the SRF are mercenaries for the State of South Sudan. What is your reply?

[Ibrahim] A regime which describes as “insects” human beings who have been dignified by the Almighty Lord would not balk at using the language of [Arab poet] Al-Mutanabbi in assailing Al-Akshidi and demeaning foes from his own people. It is a regime that does not lack vile language and attempts to cheapen people. The SRF formations are independent. They existed more than a decade before the birth of the Republic of South Sudan. Their alliance with each other does not undermine their independence or make them tools in the hands of others. The regime is searching for a peg to justify its failures and cover up for its nakedness.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Khartoum also accused your forces of fighting in Hijlij with the Southern Army in the middle of April?

[Ibrahim] The regime is in a state of hysteria in which it is difficult for it to distinguish rationally and soberly between the sides to the conflict. It has directed its arrows in every direction and has not left any internal or external quarter without directing accusations to it. The regime’s confusion is due to the glaring defeat its Armed Forces and loyal militias sustained in Hijlij. The fighting was between the forces of the regime and the Army of the Southern State. Khartoum was unable to provide a plausible justification to the people.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is it true that JEM sought alliances with other armed movements after the number of its followers dwindled?

[Ibrahim] Even though there is nothing wrong for a politician to seek support from others, and even though the assumption in the question is not accurate, JEM did not form alliances with others when it became weak as the question implies. It is not weak despite the loss of its leader, the martyr Dr Khalil Ibrahim. We believe that power is in unity. We have made unification of the resistance our principle and our progress in this is being monitored by our establishments. The SRF was established more than a month before the assassination of the martyr Khalil. Our aim is to topple Al-Bashir and provide a democratic alternative.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Al-Bashir described you as “insects” after he used the same word to describe the Southerners. What is your reply?

[Ibrahim] Before he met his unenviable fate, Gaddafi described the Libyan revolutionaries as rats. The Hutu rulers of Rwanda at that time called the Tutsis “cockroaches” and committed genocide against them. After this they searched for hiding places to protect them from justice. If a man who claims to be a Muslim and to be the leader of a State in the twenty-first century describes as “insects” humans who have been dignified by Allah, the only explanation is that this man is a fugitive from international justice. This proves that he committed the previous crimes. The international community must take seriously what this “bloody dancer” says and strive to arrest him.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Khartoum says that in the event of any agreement with Juba, your movement will be reduced to highway bandits?

[Ibrahim] They used such descriptions against us before and swore that they would n ever sit down with us to the negotiating table. We then saw them roaming world capitals looking for somebody to mediate and make us sit down with them. This is a self-contradicting regime that does not understand the consequences of what it says. At times it makes organizations and individuals’ highway bandits but later makes them partners to negotiate with on equal footing. The regime adopts a decision and its opposite on a single day.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are you going to enter into any negotiations with the Sudanese Government? Will this be within the framework of the Doha Document?

[Ibrahim] We are peace advocates. Reaching peace through negotiations is desirable and preferable to the other options if there is a serious partner for peace. But the regime wants security and military solutions, so it is futile to waste time with it and allow it to use negotiating forums for public relations and buying favors. The Doha Document is not suitable as a basis for negotiations in any coming phase because it is confined to Darfur at a time in which the SRF is striving for a comprehensive solution for the whole country.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] The joint representative of UNAMID, Ibrahim Gambari, has described the conditions in Darfur as stable. The Transitional Darfur Authority has proposed the deployment of Sudanese-Chadian forces. What is your opinion?

[Ibrahim] The UN position is expressed by Ibrahim Gambari because he is the highest UN representative in the Darfur Province. But we must not forget that what Gambari said was said before him by his predecessor Rodolfo Adada yet the conditions remained as they were. Statements that are made upon demand do not change the fact that the Darfur issue has not been solved. If there is stability it is because the resistance is changing its tactics and seeking to transfer the battle to the capital so that the solution would be comprehensive. As to the demand by the so-called Transitional Authority, it conflicts with the demand by the UNAMID command. If its neutrality is in doubt because it goes along with the regime, then Sudanese-Chadian forces will definitely lack neutrality and not be qualified for peacekeeping as they face resistance in various parts of Sudan.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you see the voluntary repatriation program for Darfur’s refugees and internally displaced persons [IDPs]? Is it true that they are turning away from you?

[Ibrahim] It would be a gross mistake for people to think that we want the refugees or IDPs to stay in the camps or that this serves us some way. We would be happy to see our people leave the camps of humiliation and indignity and return to their villages to resume normal life and participation in production. It is with the rehabilitation of villages and the abandoned countryside through voluntary repatriation that the resistance will get food, material and social support, and men. The resistance has a clear interest in this. But what the regime and the so-called Transitional Authority are seeking has nothing to do at all with voluntary repatriation. They want to evict the dwellers of the camps without ensuring security and services. This is unacceptable.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you see Sudan’s future? Are you going to march toward Khartoum?

[Ibrahim] I am very optimistic that the more the going gets tough the better the prospects for a breakthrough, despite the language used by the regime–from the “injection” of Kamal Ubayd [statement that Southerners would not be given even an injection in the North] to the “insects” of Umar al-Bashir and the instructions of Ali Othman from parliament to his regular forces to kill whoever tries to smuggle “a fruit” [to the South]. This is similar to the language of former President Jaafar al-Numairi in his last days. The people are destined to see the dawn soon, whether the SRF marches to Khartoum or not. The people will not remain inactive after the dust of Hijlij settles and the catastrophic military and economic facts become clear.