Sudan replaces military commander of Blue Nile state

Change follows charges by residents that the army failed to protect them during recent tribal clashes

Sudan's Hausa people protest in El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan state, in July to demand retribution for fellow tribesmen killed in a deadly land dispute in Blue Nile state. AFP
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The military commander of Sudan's southern Blue Nile state, the scene of tribal clashes that left nearly 200 people dead last week, was replaced on Monday.

A brief military statement did not say why Gen Ramzy Babekr was removed.

But there were complaints from Blue Nile residents that troops from the local garrison had failed to protect them from the latest violence.

Gen Babekr will keep his position as commander of an infantry division deployed at Damazin, capital of Blue Nile state. He will be replaced as the state’s military commander by Gen Rabia Abdallah, who is an expert on conflict resolution, said the statement.

The army has meanwhile dispatched reinforcements to the state, which remains fraught with tension even though the fighting has stopped.

The change comes a day after witnesses reported thousands of local residents protesting outside the army headquarters in Damazin, accusing the government of failing to protect them.

Sudan's Hausa people have clashed with the Berta people in a land dispute which has contributed to the country's unrest. AFP

Blue Nile borders South Sudan and Ethiopia, and is reportedly awash with guns, still affected by decades of civil war.

The latest bout of violence in Blue Nile adds a new layer to Sudan’s growing security woes after the military seized power in a coup a year ago, removing a civilian-led transitional government.

The ensuing political crisis, coupled with a near economic meltdown, have created a vacuum that has allowed repeated outbreaks of violence in the country’s outlying regions, including Blue Nile and Darfur.

Clashes in Blue Nile have pitted the Hausa, who have roots in West Africa, against the Berta people in a land dispute which, together with livestock, is the chief cause of tribal and ethnic unrest in religiously and ethnically diverse Sudan.

The same rivals clashed earlier this year in Blue Nile, leaving at least 149 people dead and 65,000 displaced from July to early October, the UN said.

UN figures show that about 600 people have been killed and at least 211,000 forced to flee their homes in intercommunal conflicts across the country since January.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Updated: October 24, 2022, 5:38 PM
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