Egypt expels Darfur rebel reps in growing crackdown

Egyptian authorities escalated their crackdown on Darfur rebel groups maintaining offices in Cairo, expelling Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) representative Hafiz Youcif Hamoda from the country. The move comes with increasing pressure on Sudanese migrants and refugees in Egypt. No explanation was given for the expulsion of Hamoda, an adviser to SLM leader Abdel Wahid al-Nur and member of the SLM negotiating team. Speaking with Sudan Tribune from Nairobi, Hamoda said the Egyptian decision is motivated by the "tremendous rapprochement between Khartoum and Cairo."

Egypt also asked Ahmed Tugud, a leading member of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and two associates to leave the country last week, following the JEM's attack on Khartoum. They reportedly remain in Cairo because the security service said they want to interrogate them.

Hamoda said he never violated the Egyptian law, and that "there was no reason to expel me apart from leveraging on the opportunity of the JEM attack."

One anonymous source told Sudan Tribune that Egyptian authorities believe that the SLM officials played a role in the cross-border traffic of Darfuris to Israel. However, Hamoda said that Egyptian Bedouin smugglers are the ones responsible for "this lucrative business."

Increasing numbers of Sudanese trek across the Sinai desert and pay Bedouin smugglers to help them cross the border, driven by hardship in Egypt, where they lack residence and work permits and have been subject to arrest. The number of Sudanese entering Israel without documents has escalted dramatically since the start of the Darfur conflict in 2004. (Sudan Tribune, May 20)

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