State of emergency declared in Sudan's West Darfur province amid tension

Local government enacts two-week night-time curfew

Displaced women and children from Darfur sit outside their shelter in a UN-run camp. AFP
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Authorities in Sudan's restive province of West Darfur have declared a state of emergency across the area in response to rising tribal tension, according to the official Sudanese news agency Suna.

A two-week night-time curfew was also declared on Monday.

“The decision comes after a meeting held by the state's security committee, in light of the security tensions taking place in Fora Baranga locality,” Suna reported.

Local media reports attributed the decision to tribal violence that left residents dead and houses burnt down in a rural area near the border with Chad.

Separately, a man was killed on Monday in the provincial capital, Geneina.

The latest violence follows potentially destabilising incidents in other parts of Darfur.

Last Thursday, an army lieutenant colonel was assassinated in broad daylight in the commercial district of Zalingi, the capital of Central Darfur province. Authorities said the killing was carried out by three armed men who also seized the officer's all-terrain vehicle.

On April 2, armed men killed an army colonel in Nyala, capital of South Darfur province.

A captain from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces was also recently assassinated in East Darfur. The genesis of the RSF is the Janjaweed militia, which fought on the government's side in the Darfur civil war.

Tribal and ethnic violence has been on the rise in the entire Darfur region since a military coup in October 2021 derailed Sudan's democratic transition and created a security vacuum in the country's outlying areas to the west and south.

Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands displaced as a result of tribal and ethnic clashes.

Darfur was the scene of a ruinous civil war in the 2000s that pitted mostly ethnic African rebels seeking a bigger share of the nation's resources against the Khartoum government.

The conflict left at least 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the UN.

A peace deal reached in October 2020 between the military and several rebel groups in Darfur has failed to address the root causes of violence in the region, allowing deadly clashes to continue over pastures, water and land.

The deal, signed in the South Sudanese capital of Juba, also did not involve rebel groups with a significant following among civilians or firepower to reckon with.

Moreover, the rebels whose leaders signed the deal are yet to be integrated into the armed forces as promised. Left without a source of income, some of the rebels are blamed for a rise in crime in Khartoum and other major cities they have descended on.

The violence in western Sudan typically involves ethnic African farmers and cattle-herding tribesmen of Arab descent. The post-coup violence in southern Sudan is primarily among rival ethnic groups.

Sudan, a vast Afro-Arab nation, has been bedevilled by civil wars since its independence in 1956.

The conflicts, mostly in the west and south, have drained the country's resources and scarred its multi-ethnic and multi-religious fabric.

Updated: April 11, 2023, 12:17 PM