(KHARTOUM) – The violent events in South Darfur State escalated on Thursday with two people being killed as demonstration against the newly appointed governor entered its third day.
Meanwhile, the federal government in Khartoum has vowed to stamp out the unrest, describing as outlaws those protesting in favour of reinstating the former governor.
South Darfur State plunged into an episode of unrest on Tuesday when supporters of ex-governor Abdul Hamid Musa Kasha staged protests against the appointment of his successor, Ismail Hamad, as the latter arrived in the state capital Nyala to assume his duties.
Hamad was appointed to his position on 10 January as Kasha, the governor elected during the 2010 general elections, was relieved from his position as part of presidential decrees that increased the number of states in Sudan’s western region of Darfur from three to five.
The decrees are part of the implementation of the Doha Peace Agreement signed in mid July last year between the government and the Liberation and Justice Movement, one of Darfur rebel groups, in a bid to end the nine years of conflict in the region.
Kasha was given the position of the governor of the newly created state of East Darfur, but he refused to accept his post, citing dissatisfaction with the area’s lack of infrastructure.
The first two days of unrest in Nyala saw looting, arson and the death of three people as the police clamped down on the protesters.
Eye witnesses told Sudan Tribune that demonstrators took to the streets again on Thursday and gathered in main down town markets where they burned tires. The police resorted to its typical response of firing tear gas and live bullets in the air to break them up.
According to the witnesses, two more people were killed and dozens were injured.
Meanwhile, the state minister for the presidency of the republic, Amin Hassan Omer, told the Khartoum-based daily newspaper Al-Ahdath on Friday that the authorities are determined to confront outlaws without leniency.
“There will be no immunity to those who break the law,” he declared, stressing that there is no going back in the appointment of the new governor.
Omer also absolved the former governor Kasha of any guilt, saying he had nothing to do with the unrest.
But Omer’s assertion makes little sense in view of statements on Thursday in which the new governor Hamad accused Kasha loyalists in the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of standing behind the unrest.
“If this crisis did not erupt, we would not have been able to glean the sources of error in the party,” Hamad told a gathering of NCP members in Nyala.
The new governor called on the NCP’s youth to renounce violence, and pledged to continue the achievements of his predecessor.
In the meantime, the NCP has scrambled to contain the situation, forming a taskforce led by its prominent member Ibrahim Ahmad Omer and other members who arrived in Nyala on Thursday.
The delegation immediately embarked on a series of meetings with the state’s security committee as well as local officials, including Kasha.
On the other hand, NCP members loyal to Kasha gathered at the party’s headquarters in Nyala and chanted slogans calling for his return to the governor office.
The NCP’s delegation met with Kasha’s stalwarts and urged them to observe self-restrain.
Analysts say that Darfur states governors who belong to the NCP are unhappy with the Doha Agreement on the perception that it detracts from their powers.
Analysts are also sceptical that the Doha agreement will bring an end to the conflict in the region, considering the power struggles that might derail its implementation.