Panafrican News Agency

Sudan PM Hamdouk pays rare visit to restive region of Darfur

Khartoum, Sudan(PANA) - Sudan’s Prime Minister, Dr Abdallah Hamdouk, has paid a rare visit to the camps of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur, the first such visit ever by a prime minister or a vice president to an IDP camp since 2003, the year the war broke in Darfur.

Hamdouk, brought to power by a popular uprising in April 2019, was shown on national media dressed in casual black trouser and short sleeve shirt.

Normally in the past, Sudanese people used to see officials visiting such areas, even those adjacent to the camps, dressed in military fatigue.

The United Nations said over 300,000 people were killed in the war that broke out in the region in 2003 and millions made refugees or displaced inside their own country.  

The persistent displacement and killing and the foul play cry from the international community, spurred the UN and the African union into stepping in to try stop the fighting.

In 2007, Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) forces were introduced to help protect the civilians there, especially those living in IDP camps, where those villagers have been forcefully driven out of their farms and traditional areas, to seek safety near the urban areas.

Dozens of camps for internally displaced persons cropped up near the major towns, forming their own township. In 2016-2017, the first group of children born in these camps, sat for the primary school examination, knowing nothing but these camps as their relatives left their home villages years ago because of the conflict and inter-communal fighting in the restive region of Darfur.

During all this period, the IDP mostly from the Fur ethnicity, one of the main ethnic groups in the region, have refused to receive any government officials in the camps.

Hamdouk seems to have broken the rule. He answered ten questions that he named as the priority of the government during the three-year interim  period, top of which is the realization of peace in the Sudan to the relief of the Darfurians, including rebel leaders who met with him in South Sudan and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Hamdouk and his colleagues in the government have ceased calling the leaders of the Darfur armed movements rebels. Rather, they now call them “brothers in the armed struggle”. Hamdouk was the first to use that in his first official press conference about three months ago.

Many messages went to the camps preceding the visit. Late last month, Hamdouk stepped out of the protocol and agreed to confer with the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Amy Mohamed Nour, the self-exiled leader currently staying in France.

Nour said he would meet Hamdouk only if the prime minister agreed to leave his title as prime minister outside and come to meet him as “Dr Hamdouk”.  The prime minister nodded to the precondition and met with Nour.

Nour has strongest support among the internally displaced persons in Darfur. In fact, he draws his strength from the Fur community as himself hails from the said Ethnolinguistic community.

On Sunday, the Forces for Change and Freedom held a press conference and made a particularly interesting statement: that deposed president Omar Bashir will go to the international Criminal Court (ICC) after the national courts have dealt with him and after he serves the terms slammed on him.

A very strong message for the Darfur’s internally displaced persons who were demanding that Bashir and his colleagues be transferred to The Hague-based court.

“Freedom, Peace and Justice, and the Revolution is People’s Choice” the mottos of the revolution were chanted by resident of Zam zam and Kalma IDP camps, 800 km west of Khartoum,  giving him the welcome he needed and sending him a message that he would be welcomed.

Hamdouk, in a terse speech, promised the IDPs that justice will be served and rights will be restored and peace remains the priority for his government

Addressing tribal chiefs, women leaders and residents, Hamdouk said the persons living in camps after being driven out of their homes and becoming refugees in their own homeland, would be part and parcel of the peace process and their view and vision will be a prerequisite and incorporated in any process or peace deal his government reaches.

He said no talks would be carried out in close-door rooms away from the stake holders,  the people of Darfur, any more.

 He called on all to stand together and help bring peace, stability and peace to the whole country. He stressed that the individually and collective compensations of the displaced would be met and that people rights in their home areas would be restored as well including those who want to return to the villages and areas they were forced to flee.

He promised to restore “the historical rights related to land and its use in accordance with the Darfur customs and traditions, and the expulsion of new settlers” from the land of the displaced, amid chants and singing of revolution motto.

-0- PANA MO/VAO 4Nov2019