Sudan Sovereign Council leader Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan might have scored a diplomatic victory by addressing the UN General Assembly (UNGA) as the internationally recognised leader of Sudan, but now the pressure will be on him to show the way in providing tangible solutions to the five-month conflict that has killed more than 5,000 and displaced some 4.2 million people.
Sudan watchers say that the Gen Burhan’s address to UNGA succeeded in upstaging his rival, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, the leader the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), after the recent shuttle diplomacy that took him to Turkey, South Sudan, Egypt and Qatar.
Yet, according to Muhammed Amin, a political analyst based in Khartoum, Gen Burhan will now come under pressure from the international community to provide solutions and accountability.
“He is now exposed to threats over human rights violations that might have been committed by his faction, which could be used as leverage against him to commit to peace and provide a clear timetable for a ceasefire and when the army will get out of the politics,” said Mr Amin who is also a veteran journalist.
Gen Burhan while addressing the assembly said that he remains committed to peace and the transfer of power to civilians.
“The armed forces will leave politics once and for all once the elections are held after the interim civilian government that will address issues of security, humanitarian and economic recovery,” he said.
But days after his speech, his Sudan Armed Forces (Saf) exchanged artillery shelling around the army’s general command in central Khartoum with the RSF.
The RSF launched a violent artillery attack on the army’s General Command from its bases in south of the capital Khartoum, the witnesses said.
Scorched earth policy
Video clips by local media showed smoke columns rising from around the General Command as a result of the clash. Over the past 10 days, the RSF has launched missiles towards the General Command from its bases in eastern and southern Khartoum.
The Saf in turn, responded with fierce artillery strikes on a number of neighbourhoods in the eastern Nile area in Bahri city, where the RSF fighters are heavily deployed.
The emergency room of Al-Jarif Sharq District, a northern Khartoum suburb, said in a statement that the area had come under violent bombardment, calling on the residents to remain inside their homes and stay away from doors and windows.
The RSF, for its part, said in a statement on Monday that it had shot down a MIG warplane of the army, accusing the Saf of “exercising a scorched earth policy” by deliberately bombing residential neighbourhoods, markets, and vital facilities in the capital and cities of Darfur and Kordofan states, causing deaths and injuries among thousands of innocent civilians.
And concerns are rising over Sudan's worsening health situation amid a surge in seasonal epidemics, coupled with the ongoing conflict.
The Ministry of Health has acknowledged the emergence of dengue fever, malaria, and cholera cases across various regions of the country. In a statement published on its Facebook page Tuesday evening, the Ministry reported 21 cholera-related deaths in Khartoum and Gedaref states. According to the ministry, “265 suspected cases of cholera were reported in Gedaref State, with 18 fatalities, while Khartoum State recorded 13 cholera cases, including three deaths.”
“The dengue fever epidemic is spreading in 8 states, including the Red Sea, Kassala, Gedaref, Gezira, Sinnar, North Kordofan, South Kordofan, and North Darfur,” the minister said, attributing the spread of the disease to the increasing breeding of mosquitoes amid the continuous rainfall.
Disease, killings and rape
Ahmed Mohamed al-Doma, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Health in North Darfur State, also reported 25 cases of dengue fever in the state, with no fatalities. On Tuesday, WHO reported outbreaks of cholera and dengue fever in eastern Sudan, with 162 suspected cholera cases admitted to hospitals in Gedaref and other border areas near Ethiopia.
Previously, Sudan's health ministry reported that the RSF had seized control of the country's primary medical supplies warehouse, resulting in the loss of medicines and medical equipment worth $500 million, along with a 70 percent loss of specialised center equipment in Khartoum.
Last week, the UN revealed that some 1,200 children under the age of 5 in nine refugee camps in Sudan had died over the past four months due to a suspected measles outbreak and malnutrition, particularly in the White Nile State.
Sudan has been witnessing deadly clashes between the Saf and the RSF in Khartoum and other areas since April 15, resulting in at least 3,000 deaths and more than 6,000 injuries, according to figures released by the Sudanese Health Ministry. Other estimates said the deaths could be as high as 5,000 or more while human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused both sides of committing atrocities including killings and rape.
According to the latest report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha), some 5.3 million people have been displaced inside and outside Sudan. Over one million people have crossed into neighbouring Ethiopia, the CAR, Chad, Egypt, and South Sudan, Ocha said.
At the UN last week on Thursday, Burhan narrated how he has knocked on all doors to stop the war and has responded positively to various initiatives such as the Jeddah Round (sponsored by the US and Saudi Arabia), the regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), and other initiatives by friendly countries such as Turkey, Egypt, South Sudan, and Uganda.
“Some quarters characterise the war as a power struggle between two generals, but it is a war of aggression started by RSF against our armed forces and all components of society such as public facilities, hospitals and seizing homes and private property,” he said.
Burhan wants RSF designated as a terrorist outfit, having locally stripped it of its legal backing as a government security agency.
“Their intention was to obliterate the history of the Sudanese by attacking museums, antiquities and destroying land records and court registers,” he said.
Burhan’s entity and allies, just as those of Daglo, have been struck with Western sanctions in the US and UK, for fuelling the war atrocities.
His country remains suspended by the African Union for his October 2021 coup and donors have largely frozen any further engagements. Despite maintaining that he has respected all initiatives, he has had a problem with Igad. Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and South Sudan are spearheading the Igad initiative also known as the ‘quartet’.
The Al-Burhan faction has on many occasions demanded the replacement of Kenya’s President William Ruto from the quartet on account that he has business dealings with Daglo.
Burhan promised to reach out to the holdout groups such as Abdulaziz al-Hilu of Sudan Liberation Movement (SPLM-North) and Abdel Wahid Mohamed al-Nur of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW).
However, there is little evidence they will fight for him. Earlier this week, SLM-AW announced that its fighters had taken control of multiple areas in Darfur, the western part of the country.
The head of civil authority in SLM-AW-controlled territories, Mujib al-Rahman Mohamed al-Zubair, said in a statement that they were forced to deploy their troops to protects civilians after the government withdrew its forces from Tawila west of El-Fasher.
On the other hand, al-Hilu’s SPLM-N is consolidating itself in South Kordofan by taking control of army garrisons abandoned by Saf.
Additional reporting by Xinhua