Interview: Justice and Equality Movement, Deputy Chief: Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad

* For these reasons our Movement rejected Khalil’s leadership

Khartoum, ( The importance of this interview with the deputy chief of the Justice and Equality Movement ( JEM), Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad stems from the fact that the movement impacts the political theater and military actions in Darfur. He is an eyewitness to so many developments within Darfur and Sudan at large.

The JEM leader, Mohammad, recounted the full details of what he has described as “the treacherous attack carried out by Jebril Ibrahim’s movement in order to liquidate JEM’s top leadership”, fearsome of their political and military capabilities and their potential to pull the rug from under their feet.
Following are excerpts from the interview conducted by Reporter Usama Al Tayeb : about your breakaway from JEM, headed by Jebril?

Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad: The main reason for the reaking away is Ibrahim’s intransigence and his refusal to sign the Doha Peace Declaration although, the Movement founder, Dr. Khalil Ibrahim was convinced that the movement leaders would not get the post of vice President of the Republic until Khalil was lost as a result of his criminal brother’s greediness, Jebril. After the death of Khalil Ibrahim , we took a position over Jebril’s leadership of the Movement. The main reason was our reservations over the thrusting of the Movement into things that are neither part of the Movement objectives, nor the issues relevant to Darfur such as throwing the Movement forces into Libya’s war –during Qaddafi’s time- in order to quell anti-Qaddafi’s demonstrators and revolutionaries.

Deputy Chief of the Justice and Equality Movement ( JEM), Al Tom Sulaiman Mohamad

Deputy Chief of the Justice and Equality Movement ( JEM), Al Tom Sulaiman Mohamad : How big was the Movement when you seceded from it?

Al-Tom Suleiman Mohammad: At the time of the breakup- 8-8-2012, we were the greater part and still are. That was when we nabbed the security apparatus Director and the field representative of the Movement.The breakaway was bloodless, no blood was spilled. We allowed Khalil group elements to quit the locale under our control. We put them in 16 vehicles and we had 150 vehicles , fully equipped with military hardware- in the area of Shaqiq Karo- far northern region of Darfur. : What happened after that ?

Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad: Jebril continued his stubbornness, thrusting comrades in internal battles against us. We did not want blood spilling and so we, of our own volition, went to the negotiation forum to catch up with the Doha Darfur Peace Document. What were the most prominent challenges that faced you after signing the DDPD document with the government ?

Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad: After signing, we proceeded to the field at the time Jebril’s forces gained military and logistic support from the state of South Sudan. : As an eyewitness, tell us of the battles between you and Jebril Ibrahim’s forces ?

Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad: I was the one who had detained Abdul Karim Shalawi in my car for five days until we handed him over to his relatives. :Why wasn’t JEM’s treatment in the same spirit ?

Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad :But they attacked us , after we moved, after Doha to Ndjamena by a Qatari airplane. From Ndjamena , we moved to the Chadian town of Abeshi which lies at Chadian Sudanese border. We left behind our vehicles and took rental cars . Jebril’s group was monitoring our movements. They took advantage of our siesta in Chad’s territories before the arrival of our forces and fired at the delegation of which I was a member. The purpose, for those who know military actions, was to physically liquidate the entire delegation. At the time of the attack, I was near the Movement’s Chief as I was his deputy and the chair of the External Relations Office. The gunfire was focused on our movement first liners . They used all types of heavy weapons. Thanks to the divine providence and the knowledge of how to use weapons, we miraculously survived the onslaught .
After retreating from our positions, burying our martyrs and evacuating the injured in the space of two hours as of the beginning of the abrupt battle and treacherous attack of Jebril’s group, we returned, with help from the Sudanese Chadian forces, to our positions. A Chadian security officer was killed and another was wounded. After that we regrouped and pursued Jebril’s forces as far as the Sudan- South Sudan borders. After how many days, were you able to rearrange your forces?

Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad: Two days only. How many vehicles were used in chasing Jebril Ibrahim’s forces ?

Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad : Our task force consisted of eighty vehicles whereas theirs were within the limit of sixty. : The magnitude of losses inflicted on Jebril Ibrahim’s forces.?

Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad : We seized a number of the enemy’s vehicles. We freed a number of our captives some of whom fled- during the chasing process- to Ribacona area , South Sudan after we killed and wounded a number of them. : How do you view the future of Arosha negotiations and its impact on peace in Darfur?

Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad :I do not think they will reach genuine peace because the so called revolutionary committees are raising the slogan of toppling the regime and so, negotiations in this case, are meant to realize tactical objectives. The objective is, of course, to buy time and to a breath of air. SPLM- North, is only concerned with issues related to South Kordufan and the Blue Nile. It does not care about the Darfur peace issues, as per the SPLM North agendas .

Deputy Chief of the Justice and Equality Movement ( JEM), Al Tom Sulaiman Mohamad

Deputy Chief of the Justice and Equality Movement ( JEM), Al Tom Sulaiman Mohamad : What is the role played by the Chadian President, Idriss Debi, as regards reaching this agreement?

Al Tom Suleiman Mohammad : The Chadian President is interested in the peaceful settlement of the differences in Darfur because his country security is linked to security in Darfur, that is why he is keen on this issue. Before all else, he initiated the peace negotiations in 2003, the year the war erupted in Darfur. At the said time, I was one of the JEM negotiators with the government. President Debbi brought about the recognition of the other armed revolutionary movements. Furthermore, he convinced the government to conduct negotiations with us. Afterwards , we toured all the negotiating forums from Abechi, Ndhamina to Abuja and Doha. We would like to sincerely thank Doha leaders for their efforts in helping reach a peaceful settlement to the problem .