London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Darfur’s rebel Justice and Equality Movement [JEM] comes in second place in political and military importance after the Sudan Liberation Movement [SLM].Al-Fur clan founded the SLM whereas it was Al-Zaghawa Tribe which founded JEM in 2001, as a splinter group from the SLM.
JEM is headed by Dr Khalil Ibrahim Muhammad, a former minister of security in the Government of Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir. The movement announced its formation in 2001 and launched military operations in February 2003 side by side with the SLM. The two movements say that the Khartoum Government marginalizes Darfur, arrests its economic development, and prevents equitable distribution of its resources.
They assert that the Government sponsors the Janjawid militias accused by the two movements of launching raids on villages inhabited by African tribes. JEM has been active militarily in Darfur in the areas of northern Jabal Murra and northern Darfur. It carried out with Abdul-Wahid Muhammad Nur’s SLM, which proclaimed its formation at about the same time, numerous attacks on the governmental army in the province.
These operations reached the outskirts of Al-Fashir [Northern Darfur’s provincial capital] in 2002, where four aircraft were hit at the airport in an attack which captured headlines at the time. JEM and the SLM went into a direct dialogue with the Government in N’Djamena in April 2004. An agreement was reached with the Government under which there was a ceasefire to deliver aid to the displaced and the refugees.
The parties continued the negotiations late the same year in Abuja, where they signed a humanitarian protocol and a security protocol. But they did not sign the final agreement with the Government. Since that time they have continued an open battle with the Government in the field, despite repeated talk by the two sides on their commitment to a ceasefire sponsored by the African Union.
JEM is considered by Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir as the military wing in the Darfur Province of his adversary, Dr Hassan al-Turabi. Al-Bashir’s party [National Congress Party] cites as proof that all the leaders of the movement are members and leaders of the Islamic movement in Sudan which al-Turabi heads.