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Sudan promotes Darfur atrocities suspect

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080121/ap_on_re_af/sudan_darfur;_ylt=AqX11FL8m3k560x4zfOCSXKs0NUE Sudan promotes Darfur atrocities suspect By ALFRED de
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 21, 2008

      Sudan promotes Darfur atrocities suspect

      By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU, Associated Press Writer 2
      hours, 38 minutes ago

      KHARTOUM, Sudan - The suspected head of a Sudanese
      militia accused of murder, rape and other atrocities
      in Darfur has received a senior government post, the
      Sudanese government confirmed Monday. President Omar
      al-Bashir dismissed allegations against the man as

      Musa Hilal, the alleged leader of the so-called
      janjaweed militias, was named adviser to Sudan's
      Ministry of Federal Affairs last week, Sudanese media
      reported Monday. The ministry manages the central
      government's relations with the outlying provinces in
      Africa's largest country.

      "He is an influential figure in Darfur. His leadership
      has contributed to stability and security," al-Bashir
      said during a visit to Turkey. "We think the
      accusations against him are untrue."

      Hilal is the leader of the Mahamid, a clan belonging
      to the powerful Rezeigat tribe of nomad Arabs in
      Darfur. He is accused of having led the proxy militia
      raised by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum to
      fight Darfur's ethnic African rebels.

      Over 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million been
      chased to refugee camps since the fighting began in
      2003 — most of them ethnic Africans.

      The U.N. Security Council imposed travel and financial
      sanctions against Hilal and three others in April 2006
      for his alleged role in what President Bush has called
      a "genocide."

      Hilal has denied any wrongdoing, stating in a 2004
      video interview with New York-based Human Rights Watch
      that he always acted on orders and under control of
      the Sudanese government.

      Federal Affairs Minister Abdelbasit Sabderat told The
      Associated Press by telephone that Hilal would be
      "handling tribal affairs throughout the Sudan," adding
      that Darfur would not be the adviser's only focus.

      The Sudanese government denies it arms or employs the
      janjaweed, stating they are uncontrolled tribal
      militias prone to banditry, while the tribal fighters
      incorporated into uniformed paramilitary groups, which
      do much of the government's fighting in Darfur, are
      regular troops and not janjaweed.

      But in February 2007, the International Criminal Court
      in The Hague charged Cabinet Minister Ahmed Haroun and
      a suspected janjaweed leader known as Ali Kushayb with
      51 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes in
      Darfur, including the murder, rape, torture and
      persecution of civilians.

      The ICC alleges Haroun coordinated government efforts
      to arm and fund the janjaweed, and that Kushayb led
      militias in southern Darfur.

      Sudan, which is not a party to the ICC, has refused to
      hand over the suspects. Haroun remains in office as
      minister of Humanitarian Affairs — where he oversees
      humanitarian relief for Darfur's victims — and Kushayb
      is in hiding under government protection.

      The ICC has declined to comment on whether it intends
      to charge Hilal.

      "Musa Hilal is the poster child for janjaweed
      atrocities in Darfur," said Richard Dicker of Human
      Rights Watch. Naming him to a senior government
      position is a new "slap in the face to Darfur victims
      and to the UN Security Council," the group said in a

      Many Darfur Arab tribes have begun to fall out with
      the government or to fight among themselves for booty.
      Some Sudanese observers see Hilal's appointment as a
      way to prevent further bloodshed and steer the nomads
      away from an open rebellion.

      "This appointment comes out of political and tribal
      consideration," said Tayeb Khamis, a spokesman for the
      Sudan Liberation Movement, a former Darfur rebel
      faction whose leader has signed a peace deal with the
      government. "The government is trying to strike a
      balance, and Hilal is an outstanding figure in North
      Darfur, regardless of what the ICC or others have on
      him," he said.


      Associated Press writers Mohamed Osman in Khartoum and
      Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.
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