Sudan army chief Burhan warns UN war could spill over EA region

Friday September 22 2023

Sudan President of the Transitional Sovereign Council Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman Al-Burhan addresses the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, US on September 21, 2023. PHOTO | REUTERS


Sudan's army chief warned Thursday at the United Nations that months of war could spill over in the region as he urged international pressure on the paramilitary unit he is fighting.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the de facto ruler of Sudan since a 2021 coup, alluded to the rival Rapid Support Forces' (RSF) ties with Wagner, the Russian mercenary group hit by Western sanctions over alleged abuses in Africa.

"The danger of this war is now a threat to regional and international peace and security as those rebels have sought the support of outlaws and terrorist groups from different countries in the region and the world," Burhan said.

Read: Regional businesses hurting in Sudan fight

"This is like the spark of war, a war that will spill over to other countries in the region," he said.

"Regional and international interference to support these groups is crystal clear by now. This means that this is the first spark that will burn the region and will have a direct impact on regional and international peace and security."


War broke out on April 15 after the collapse of a plan to integrate the army and the RSF, led by Burhan's former deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo respectively.

The fighting in Sudan has killed at least 7,500 people, according to the NGO Acled, and displaced some five million people, dealing a new, devastating blow to efforts to bring democracy to Sudan.

Burhan has increasingly been traveling around the world in what are seen as efforts to burnish his legitimacy.

At the United Nations, he urged world powers to designate the RSF as a terrorist group.

Read: Sudan army chief headed to UN General Assembly

"They have committed all sorts of crimes that give grounds for such a designation," he said.

"Those who have supported killing, burning, raping, forced displacement, looting, stealing, torture, trafficking of arms and drugs, bringing mercenaries or recruiting children -- all such crimes necessitate accountability and punishment," he said.

The United States earlier this month-imposed sanctions on RSF leaders including senior commander Abdelrahim Hamdan Daglo, the brother of the group's leader, over alleged abuses including the killing of the governor of West Darfur.

But the United States and other Western powers have also been strongly critical of Burhan.

Alongside RSF leader Daglo, Burhan in 2021 sidelined the civilian leadership that had been part of a transitional power-sharing deal following mass protests that brought down longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir.

Read: Divided civilian movements deepen political crisis in Sudan

"We are still committed to our previous pledges to transfer power to the people of Sudan with great national consensus and consent," he said.

"The armed forces would leave politics for once and for all."