Sudan: New Dissidence Is Announced in Darfur Largest Rebel Group

London — A splinter rebel faction from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) released Tuesday a statement confirming its dissidence, one month after the start of its breakaway.

The communiqué signed by eight members of JEM executive body and 18 leading commanders said the dissident group held a meeting in Furawiyya, North Darfur on 8 and 9 September where they decided to relieve JEM leader Gibril Ibrahim.

The splinter group appointed Mohamed Bashar Ahmed, a cousin of JEM leader, as president of the interim military council till the organisation of a general convention within 45 days.

JEM former general commander, Bakheit Abdallah Abdel-Karim (Dabajo) - who had been sacked last month - is reinstated in his position. Ali Wafi JEM, former military spokesperson, is appointed as spokesperson of the military council.

Sources say the faction has a high military strength as they have over 150 vehicles and sophisticated weapons that were brought from Libya last year.

On 9 August, JEM chairman Gibril Ibrahim relieved Dabajo from his position of JEM commander in chief. The decision was issued amid rumours saying that the latter was gathering troops before to announce a military coup against the leader of the group.

Rebel sources at the time said Dabajo removal aimed to foil a plot supported by the Chadian president Idriss Deby who wanted to eliminate any future threat JEM leadership might represent for him as he was accused to taking part in the death of Khalil Ibrahim, the founder of rebel group in December 2011.

JEM denied the rumours saying Dabajo remains a member in the rebel group and his removal was not linked to such allegations. However on 17 August, Jibril Ibrahim issued a statement accusing Khartoum and Ndjamena of plotting to divide Darfur largest rebel group.

Different Chadian sources last month reported that Dabjo and Bashar were more than three times in Ndjamena for meetings with the Chadian president. It was also reported that Bashar with his supporters and 35 vehicles were based in Abeche on the border with Sudan.

Last year, Bashar and Wafi had been detained by the rebel group because they were accused of taking part in a plot to empoison JEM founder Khalil Ibrahim while he had being in Tripoli, Libya. They were released after his death by the new leader Gibril Ibrahim.

The statement accused Gibril of "monopolising" all JEM institutions and transforming it into "a private company he runs with some opportunists", excluding the others from participating in the decision making.

They also blamed him for the lack of transparency and absence of future vision. It was reported that the dissidents were against the recent alliance with the SPLM-North.

Girbil who took the leadership of the movement after the death of his brother since nine months was based in London far from the ground where the commanders used to be in daily contact with their leader the late Khalil Ibrahim.

His presence in London was explained by the need for international contacts as the groups was under international pressure to join the Doha peace agreement. Also, Gibril's election as deputy chairman for foreign relations of the rebel alliance Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) forced him to remain abroad.

The dissidents delayed their statement because they were in consultations with all the members of the Movement including the members of the leadership, sources close to the splinters said.

The leader of the rebel group, Bashar was the first JEM secretary general, he belongs to the same tribal branch of the Zaghawa ethnic group. While Dabajo is a former commander of Minni Minnawi who joined JEM in March 2008 with Suleiman Jamous and other commanders opposed to Abuja peace deal of 2006.

Different sources say the dissidents have established contacts with the mediation team tasked with the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur. But there is no official confirmation from the group or the mediation.

JEM was part of the Doha peace process but the group declined to ink the framework agreement demanding more talks.

The decision had already triggered a small dissidence in July 2011 led by former deputy chairman Mohammed Bahr but the mediation team last May refused to include him in the process considering he has a small number of fighters.

It was reported that Bashar and Dabajo are in contact with Bahr's group.

JEM spokesperson Gibreel Adam Bilal, spoke last month to Sudan Tribune about contacts with the splinters aiming to amend the situation and to avert the attempt to break the group.

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