Sudanese rebels from Darfur who have been pushed out of Sudan are fighting as mercenaries in Libya, according to the Special Representative and Head of the UN Support Mission to Libya, Martin Kobler.
Speaking to reporters following discussions with the Sudanese Foreign Minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, Kobler called for two rebel groups to end operations in Libya and for the Sudanese government to assist the UN in controlling the Sudan-Libya border.
In January this year a UN report confirmed “the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Army Mini Minawi (SLA/MM) no longer have a significant presence in Darfur as a result of the [Sudan] government’s effective counterinsurgency strategy.”
“JEM now operates mostly in South Sudan, while SLA/MM operates mainly in Libya. These groups are engaged in mercenary activities and, allegedly, in criminal activities in those countries,” the report added.
There was no comment from Darfur rebel groups on Kobler’s statements.
However, the Darfur groups have repeatedly denied government accusations that they were fighting for mercenary purposes in Libya. Kobler said his talks discussed how best to bring about peace and stability in Libya. “We engaged in extensive discussion, in particular Sudan’s security concerns regarding Sudanese rebels operating in Libya,” he said.
The international law is very clear that there shouldn’t be anti-government movements in another country. That is why the presence of Sudanese rebel groups inside Libya is a big and legitimate concern of Sudan.
The UN envoy’s visit to Sudan is part of his efforts to prepare for a regional summit in Algeria on 8 May, on the situation in Libya.
In May 2016, Sudan proposed the establishment of joint forces to monitor the border between Sudan and Libya to fight the Boko Haram group which is accused of sending fighters to Libya and to curb the movements of Darfur rebels in the troubled country.
Despite the efforts of the international community, the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj has failed to restore security in Libya. The country is controlled by several armed groups, some of which support the GNA government and some others oppose it.
Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Garib Allah, for his part, reiterated Khartoum’s support for peace in Libya. He went on to call on Libyan rivals to pursue dialogue to resolve the conflict in the North African country.
Libya fell into chaos in 2011 following the ouster and subsequent killing of its former leader Muammar Gaddafi in a popular uprising.