Sudan: Govt to Send Delegation to Nierteti Sit-in

Nierteti / Khartoum — The Sudanese government has expressed "full solidarity" with the sit-in in Central Darfur Nierteti set up in protest against the local authorities who reportedly do not move to stop the rampant insecurity in the area.

The vigil in Nierteti started on Sunday, when thousands of people, including residents of the adjacent camps for the displaced, took to the streets in protest against the continuing attacks in the area. At the end of the demonstrations, they set up a sit-in in front of the Nierteti locality offices. They also keep the Nyala-Zalingei road and the Nierteti-Kabkabiya road closed.

The protestors demand protection against repeated attacks by militant herders, militiamen, the dismissal of the director and security committee of Nierteti locality, and the removal of those responsible for the regular forces in the region that include the police, security forces, Military Intelligence, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, disarmament of the militiamen in the area, bringing the many attackers to justice, and protection during the agricultural season.

'Fair demands'

In an interview with Radio Dabanga yesterday, Information Minister and government spokesman Feisal Mohamed Saleh described the demands of the protesters in Nierteti as "fair and worthy of consideration by the government".

Within 48 hours, a government delegation will arrive from Khartoum to discuss the problems in the area directly with the demonstrators.

Saleh apologised to the people of Nierteti for "the delay in responding to your just demands", and added "Your voice has been heard well."

He stressed the importance of "peaceful and democratic mass struggle. This form of protest that appeared in Nierteti means that the people are aware of their rights and the means they can use to call for the realisation of their rights. These peaceful means are consistent with the Constitutional Charter, the country's laws and the nature of the transitional situation in Sudan."

On Wednesday, hundreds of people from nearby villages arrived in Nierteti in support of the sit-in. Yesterday, more supporters arrived, including people from neighbouring localities in Central and South Darfur.

Rejected

The protesters however refused to receive a delegation from the Central Darfur security committee, which arrived from the state capital Zalingei with a helicopter on Thursday.

Adam Okar told Dabanga Radio that the delegation included army and police officers, members of the Military Intelligence and of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, in addition to the director of Nierteti locality.

"The protestors informed the visiting delegation that they refuse to meet with Central Darfur state officials," he reported. "They blame the state officials for doing nothing to stop the attacks on people in the locality, though they have received numerous complaints about violence and bloodshed in Nierteti."

Instead, the protestors want to talk with a delegation from the federal government, that should "address the demands in a radical and decisive manner and without delay". Only then, the sit-in will be lifted.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) renewed its call to the government in Khartoum "to urgently intervene in Nierteti".

The sit-in is "a test for the transitional government to prove its seriousness concerning a comprehensive and just peace", they said in a press statement on Thursday.

The SPA condemned "the continued neglect and slow steps to solve the security problems faced by the people in the area". These problems "must be dealt with immediately and at the highest levels".

The protestors in Nierteti also keep the Nyala-Zalingei road and the Nierteti-Kabkabiya road closed (OCHA map of Darfur)

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