El Fasher — A joint force comprising regular Sudanese forces and contingents from the parties to the Juba Peace Agreement, was officially launched by the Governor of Darfur, Minni Arko Minawi in El Fasher yesterday. This initial joint force will form the nucleus of a larger force designed to protect civilians in Darfur, as stipulated in the agreement.
Speaking at the launch in the North Darfur capital of El Fasher, Minawi underlined that the five governors of the Darfur states, discussed the issue of security in an extensive manner in a meeting earlier this week.
Minawi stressed that the mission of the joint force is not to engage in combative confrontation the forces of the non-signatory movements, except within the framework of defence. The joint force in North Darfur will not only act on reports from victims, but also will work to deter any attempt to block roads, steal livestock, burn villages and farms, or damage property.
"The joint force to establish security and protect the people, will start with El Fasher and its surroundings, to be spread to other parts of the state, and later the entire region," Minawi said.
The Darfur governor called on the members of the joint force "to engage in dialogue and communicate with the people and make them aware of the Juba Peace Agreement," and called for the formation of a contingent mounted on camels to reach the people in those remote and rugged areas inaccessible to vehicles. Minawi underlined that "the joint force has the full mandate and support from the judicial authorities, such as the judiciary and the prosecution".
The Wali of North Darfur, Nimir Abdelrahman, said that the force is "a real addition to the security effort," explaining that it will work to pursue criminals and intruders and contribute to their arrest, emphasising the follow-up to security developments.
He referred to the continuous complaints from the Darfur public about the lack of security, and stressed that the joint force enjoys a full mandate and protection under the law. He explained that the joint forces will announce their contact phone number on local radio, so that for all listeners can report violent incidents, and reports can then be filed within 24 hours to resolve the matter.
Maj Gen Zaafer Omar, Commander of the Sixth Infantry Division, hailed the new joint force as "the first joint action between members of the parties to the peace process and the regular forces".
The commander expressed his regret over the continued bloodshed and displacement, the insecurity of farmers and herders, despite the passage of nine months since the signing of the Juba Peace Agreement.
He promised to develop the forces and move them to the rest of Darfur states until real peace is complete, and called on the members of the new force "to be disciplined, act in accordance with the law, and not to use excessive force".