Did this Khartoum general have a Damascus moment?

Sunday March 12 2023
General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo alias Hemedti

Sudan's Deputy Head of the Sovereign Council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo alias Hemedti who appears to have had a change of heart over the October 2021 coup.


The emerging rivalry between two top military leaders in Sudan could play into the plan of pro-democracy forces who want a return to civilian rule.

Deputy Head of the Sovereign Council, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo alias Hemedti appears to have had a change of heart over the October 2021 coup and is now a leading voice in calling for the return to civilian rule.

This has not gone down well with his senior, the Head of the Sovereign Council Abdel al-Fattah al-Burhan, who is uncomfortable over his call for the immediate implementation of the Political Framework Agreement, which is supposed to return the country to democracy.

On March 7, Gen Dagalo surprised many Sudanese when he called on the army to hand over power to civilians and vowed to “resist” those who want to cling to power.

“We said, with all our will, that power to be handed over to a full-fledged civilian government,” he said at a military base in Karari, north of Khartoum.

Coup was a ‘mistake’


Earlier in February, Gen Dagalo, who is the commander of the notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—an offshoot of the Janjaweed militia — ruffled feathers within the top military leadership when he said that the October 2021 coup was a “mistake” and urged the military to hand over powers to civilians.

Gen Dagalo said that his RSF has no dispute with the army, but rather with those who want to cling to power.

It is now emerging that there is a power struggle between Gen Dagalo and Gen al-Burhan with some analysts attributing it to Gen Dagalo’s close links with Russia that are angling for more significant influence in Sudan.

Muhammed Amin, a journalist based in Khartoum, says that the struggle between the two powerful men could weaken the military standing in the eyes of many Sudanese to the advantage of those pushing for the return to civilian rule.

While Gen Dagalo is agitating for the immediate handover to civilian rule, Gen al-Burhan has maintained hat more political players should join the framework agreement to allow broader representation and that security sector reforms can only be undertaken by the government that will be elected.

Quick clarification

Already, the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) — which led the protests that ousted former president Omar al-Bashir in 2019 — was forced to come out and clarify they are not siding with Gen Dagalo and his RSF.

Khalid Omer, the official spokesman for the civilian forces in the political process, issued a statement denying claims that there is an alliance between the RSF commander and the FFC leaders to push for the speedy return to civilian rule.

He attributed the claims to elements of the former al-Bashir regime that are out to cause division between progressive forces in the military and civilians so as to prolong the military rule.

Mr Omer added that FCC is only consulting with the RSF to push reforms in the security sector.

However, Gen Dagalo is currently under the radar of the US Central Intelligence Agency over his close ties with Russia and the RSF operations in the diamond and goldmines in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR).

The RSF is collaborating with the Russian paramilitary firm, Wagner group to control of the Vakaga diamond mines in CAR, which has attracted the attention of Washington.