Sudan: Darfur tribal leaders reject war crimes resolution

Sudan Tribune
Tribal leaders from Sudan's divided Darfur region on Tuesday rejected a U.N. resolution referring war crimes suspects to the International Criminal Court.
Reading a joint statement from leaders of Arab tribes and a number of non-Arab Fur tribal leaders, Musa Hilal, believed to be on a list of those accused of war crimes in Darfur, said many sheikhs had begun to mobilise to solve the conflict themselves.
"This resolution first of all we reject it," said Hilal, leader of the largest Arab tribe in the region.

"The situation is not one of the people of Darfur (anymore) -- it has become one of a principle of foreign encroachment on the sovereignty of Sudan," he said.

But Darfur's non-Arab rebels, mainly drawn from the Fur, Zaghawa and Massalit groups, have welcomed the resolution, saying they would be ready to be tried if they are also accused.

Many of the more than 2 million people who have fled to camps in Darfur sympathise with the rebels but, in Sudan's tribal society, sheikhs are influential over their people.

The rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing Khartoum of neglect and giving preference to Arab tribes in remote Darfur.

The United Nations says Khartoum responded by arming Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, who now stand accused of a campaign of rape, murder and burning non-Arab villages.

Earlier on Tuesday tens of thousands of Sudanese answered a government call to protest against the United Nations, France, which drafted the original U.N. resolution, and the United States, which calls the Darfur violence genocide.


The U.N. Security Council voted 11-0 on Thursday to refer more than two years of conflict in Darfur to the ICC. Sudan's government has rejected the resolution and says Sudanese nationals will only be tried in Sudanese courts.

Khartoum admits arming some militias to fight the rebels but denies any links to the Janjaweed, calling them outlaws. Hilal says he answered a government call to defend his land and people and joined the official militia, the Popular Defence Forces.

The leaders have been negotiating in secret in Khartoum for the past two weeks on ways to return displaced Darfuris to their villages, and to ensure a shaky ceasefire signed a year ago is respected. On Tuesday they said they had agreed and would return to Darfur this week to hold grass-roots talks.

Hilal said Arab and Fur leaders had contacts with armed factions from their tribes and would include them in the talks.

Asked if he had direct control over the Arab militias, Hilal said: "Control is a harsh word... We have influence, yes."

A Fur leader from Zalengei in West Darfur state said he was optimistic Fur members of the rebel groups would listen to him.

"I am among those who from the beginning refused the taking up of arms," Damnaqawi Sisi said. "No one can solve the problems of Darfur other than the sons of Darfur themselves," he added.

Another Fur leader from Zalengei, Youssef Bakhiet, said that within 60 days the Zaghawa and Massalit tribes would join the reconciliation process.