Sudan’s army yesterday suspended talks with a rival paramilitary force over a ceasefire and aid access, sparking fears a six-week-old conflict could plunge Africa’s third-largest country into a humanitarian crisis.
The General Command of the Armed Forces said in a statement that it suspended the talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah, accusing the other side of a lack of commitment in implementing any of the agreement’s terms and continuous violations of the ceasefire.
Negotiations with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which began in early May, produced a declaration of commitments to protect civilians and two short-term ceasefire deals, though those deals were repeatedly violated.
Residents reported heavy fighting late Tuesday in southern Khartoum and across the Nile in Omdurman.
The army, which relies on airpower and artillery, and the RSF, a more lightly armed force but a tougher opponent in Khartoum street fighting, agreed to extend a week-long ceasefire agreement for five days just before it expires on Monday Were.
Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, a career military officer, and RSF general Mohamed Hamdan Dagallo, a former militia commander known as Hemedti, have been locked in a battle for power since April 15. Neither side is seeing an edge.
“We don’t want to use lethal force. We still haven’t used our maximum force… We don’t want to destroy the country,” Burhan said in a military video released on Tuesday. The base with a gun hangs on his back.
“But if the enemy does not listen and does not respond, we will be forced to use the strongest force we have,” he said.
The RSF said in a statement late Tuesday that it remained committed to the ceasefire “despite repeated violations” by the military.
Sudan has a history of political upheaval, coups and conflicts, but the violence has usually affected areas away from Khartoum. This time, the fighting is centered on the capital, an urban sprawl at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers and home to millions of people.
Commenting on the withdrawal of the Sudanese army from the Jeddah talks, Mohamed Al Haken Lebat, spokesman for the African Union on the crisis in Sudan, said: “It is not surprising. It happens often. We hope that the mediator will allow both sides to work.” Will succeed in bringing for. Expected Armistice.”
The capital has seen widespread looting and frequent power and water supply cuts. Most of the hospitals have stopped functioning.
Before renewing the ceasefire agreement, an army source said the army had demanded the withdrawal of RSFs from civilian homes and hospitals as a condition for the extension. After a five-day extension was agreed upon, negotiations continued on the terms of the ceasefire.
The ceasefire has been brokered and is being remotely monitored by Saudi Arabia and the United States. They say it has been violated by both sides, though the ceasefire still allowed an estimated 2 million people to be provided aid.