In Sudan, peace is far away

Not all parties in the war in Sudan are willing to participate in peace initiatives.

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FILE PHOTO: A Sudanese family who fled the conflict in Murnei in Sudan's Darfur region, sit beside their belongings while waiting to be registered by UNHCR upon crossing the border between Sudan and Chad in Adre, Chad, July 26, 2023. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

Sudanese paramilitary leader General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo has declared his commitment to a ceasefire in a bid to halt the destructive war ravaging his country. Despite ongoing hostilities and a lack of progress in proposed peace talks with Sudan military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, Dagalo, who leads the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), expressed his dedication to ending the conflict in a statement following a meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria.

During the meeting, Dagalo informed Ramaphosa about the substantial efforts exerted to bring an end to the war, emphasizing an unwavering commitment to cease hostilities. However, he did not specify if or when he would engage in talks with Burhan. Last month, the conflicting generals had agreed to a face-to-face meeting and discussions on a potential ceasefire, as outlined by the East African regional bloc IGAD. But Hemedti went to Uganda the day before he was supposed to meet al-Burhan for ceasefire talks in Djibouti. IGAD postponed the talks for “technical reasons”.

On Friday, Sudan’s army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, declared his commitment to prolong the ongoing nine-month war between the military and the paramilitary RSF, rejecting recent peace initiatives. Dismissing the ceasefire agreement signed by his rival, in Addis Ababa, this week, Burhan labeled Dagalo as a “clown,” “traitor,” and “coward.”

Burhan went on to criticize leaders of South Africa, Ethiopia, and Kenya, who treated Dagalo as a statesman during his visits this week. He also expressed disapproval of Sudanese politicians who engaged with Dagalo in Ethiopia. Accusing Dagalo of humiliating and harming the Sudanese people, Burhan condemned those who applauded and associated with him, characterizing the situation as a mockery and insult to the Sudanese people.

In mid-April, longstanding tensions between former allies Dagalo and Burhan escalated into a full-scale war in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and various other parts of the country. The ongoing conflict, despite discussions of a ceasefire, has resulted in a reported death toll exceeding 12,000 people according to the United Nations, though doctors and activists assert that the actual number of casualties is higher. Over 7 million individuals have been displaced from their homes.

Contrary to hopes for de-escalation, the intensity of the conflict has heightened. In the preceding month, approximately 300,000 people were compelled to flee their residences in a province that had previously served as a sanctuary for civilians. This displacement followed an attack by RSF, leading to the capture of the city of Wad Medani. The RSF’s takeover instilled fears among Wad Medani residents of potential atrocities, mirroring accusations against the RSF in Khartoum and the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

On a tour of African countries Dagalo recently met with Kenyan President William Ruto after visiting Uganda, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.

Analysts believe Hemedti’s motives for the visit was securing regional support to capture all of Sudan from the army.

Last month, the RSF captured Gezira state, a breadbasket for Sudan, giving the group the clear upper hand against the army. But rather than leverage military success in negotiations to end the conflict, Hemedti appears to have ambitions to rule all of Sudan.

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