11 July 2014

Sudan: Tribal Leaders Sign Deal to End Bloody Fighting

Khartoum — The Hamar and Ma'alia tribes signed an agreement in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Thursday aimed at ending the bloody fighting which has been continuing for two years between the rival parties in East Darfur and West Kordofan states.

The two sides agreed to support ongoing arrangements to hold the reconciliation conference on July 18.

Intermittent clashes have been going on between Hamar tribe which dwells in West Kordofan state and Ma'alia tribe which inhabits in East Darfur. The fighting was triggered by land dispute between the two tribes.

The governor of West Kordofan state, Ahmed Khamees, acknowledged in 2013 that clashes between the two tribes erupted following discovery of oil in the region.

Earlier this month, authorities in West Kordofan and East Darfur states have ordered deployment of joint military troops to secure the dividing line between areas of the two tribes following renewed fighting between them which claimed lives of 75 people.

The deal was signed by the head of Hamar area union, Abdel-Rahim Ahmed Salim, and the chairman of Ma'alia Shura (consultative) Council, Murdus Guma'a Abdallah.

The document which was seen by Sudan Tribune says the agreement seeks to resolve the conflict between the two tribes which caused human and material losses besides promoting tolerance and mutual coexistence and rising above minor sins.

The union of Hamar area and Ma'alia Shura Council pointed to the common history, kinship, and intermarriages between the two tribes, saying both sides must maintain these relations.

The deal urged the government and traditional leadership of both tribes to bear full responsibility to ensure the success of the reconciliation conference which will be held in the town of Al-Fula on Friday, asserting to offer unlimited support for the conference in order to stop the bloodshed and bring social relations between the two sides back to normal.

The two sides also called upon members of the Hamar and Ma'alia represented by the traditional leaders to exercise restraint over emotions and any dismiss any pretentions which lead to conflicts.

Last May, 28 people were killed in battles between the two tribes in East Darfur and West Kordofan according to tribal leaders at the time.

The United Nations confirmed that 38 people were killed last December in West Kordofan as a result of clashes between the two groups because of a dispute over the right to pasture.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), some of the 38,000 displaced people in West Kordofan have fled recent fighting between the Hamar and Ma'alia tribes in North and East Darfur in March and April.

Tribal fighting has become the major source of insecurity in Darfur since the beginning of last year, forcing over 300,000 people to flee their homes.

Last year, Sudan's president, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, warned against tribal strife in some areas of the country, noting the country is facing challenges that need the cooperation of all of its people.

"The tribal conflicts in a number of Sudan's areas constitute the biggest threat to the country," Bashir said when addressing a meeting of the Shura Council of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

Several officials in Darfur including the head of the regional authority, Tijani El-Sissi, also said that tribal violence is among the biggest threats to ongoing efforts to implement a peace document signed by two former rebel groups in the region.

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