The United States is reserving judgment on the potential involvement in Sudan's government of a militia leader accused of overseeing mass killings and rapes.
Donald Booth, the US special envoy for Sudan, offered a non-committal response when asked whether the US objected to the prominent role being played in the country's Transitional Military Council by Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagalo.
“One has to recognise that Gen Hemeti is a powerful figure in Sudan,” Mr Booth said at a press briefing.
In addition to commanding Sudan's Rapid Support Forces, Gen Hemeti has “significant economic assets,” the US envoy noted.
He added that the general is a key figure on the military's side in negotiations with opposition groups seeking establishment of a civilian-led government.
“So I think we have to wait and see...What type of agreement they will come up with,”Mr Booth said.
But Congressman Eliot Engel, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, urged Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to impose sanctions on Gen Hemeti and the forces under his command.
Mr Booth did not challenge the accusations directed at Gen Hemeti in his remarks.
He said the US did not want to “prejudge” the outcome of negotiations in Sudan over the composition of a transitional government, which usher in civilian government.
“It’s their country and their decision on how they move forward,” the special envoy told reporters.
Mr Booth, a veteran US diplomat, took up the Sudan portfolio on June 10.
He noted that he has since then travelled to Khartoum on three occasions and has held talks with a broad range of Sudanese.
“It’s important that we give the Sudanese space to negotiate with each other and to continue to express our support for getting to this civilian-led transitional government that will be broadly supported by the Sudanese people,” the ambassador said.