Sudan warring chiefs Burhan, Hemedti fail to meet

Thursday December 28 2023
Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan

Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (C) visits the Flamingo Marine Base in Port Sudan, Sudan on August 28, 2023. PHOTO | AFP


Sudan’s junta is blaming the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for delaying the search for peace in the country after a planned first face-to-face meeting between warring leaders failed on Thursday.

Sudan Transitional Sovereignty Council leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his nemesis Mohamed Hamdan Daglo Hemedti were set to meet in Djibouti on December 28.

11th hour

However, the meeting failed at the 11th hour after Hemedti signalled he was not available.

The regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), which is mediating the talks, had indicated that it was a one-day meeting only for Hemedti, who is on tour in Uganda, to cite technical reasons for his inability to show up.

Read: Why mediators have struggled with Sudan war


“The meeting scheduled in Djibouti on the 28th December 2023 has been postponed to early 2024 for technical reasons,” said a dispatch from Djibouti’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Djibouti is the current chair of Igad and had said the precise dates for the January meeting would be “communicated in due time.”

The meeting will now take place on January 3.

Burhan blamed Hemedti for delaying the talks.

 “The Government of Sudan regrets the Rapid Support Forces’ procrastination in seeking a voice of reason, and this is evident from their lack of response to attending tomorrow’s meeting,” said a statement from the Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which for the first time referred to the Rapid Support Forces by name in a public document since the war began on April 15. It previously labelled it as a criminal rebel group.

 “Al-Burhan had formally expressed his agreement to the Igad presidency to hold the meeting and was ready to leave for Djibouti on Wednesday evening until the postponement of the meeting was announced this afternoon.”

New date

While Igad had earlier indicated it was working to coordinate a new date for a meeting between the Sudanese army commander, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Hemedti, the actual agreement to meet alone signalled a new step in pressure from the international community.

The two leaders had never met physically since the war erupted and previous attempts failed, mostly because Burhan demanded a ceasefire and withdrawal from the capital by the RSF.

In his first public appearance, however, Hemedti met with Ugandan President Museveni who said he was briefed on the war in Sudan.

Hemedti said on X: “Today I was pleased to visit the sister Republic of Uganda and meet President Museveni. During the meeting, we discussed developments in the situation in Sudan and the resulting suffering of the Sudanese people”.

Detailed Museveni

“I give President Museveni a detailed explanation about the reasons for the outbreak of the war, which was ignited by the remnants with the help of their leaders in the armed forces and the parties that obstruct the solution and support the continuation of the war”.

Sudan Armed Forces had previously accused Uganda of aiding arms delivery to Sudan via Chad, claims Kampala refuted.

While in Uganda, Hemedti who has been unable to travel abroad due to sanctions on his rebel group said: “I also presented our vision to negotiate, stop the war, and build the Sudanese state on new, just foundations.

“And President Museveni added that he affirmed his full support for our people and work to advance efforts to achieve peace and stability in Sudan, indicating that he will harness all his capabilities and relationships to help the Sudanese overcome this difficult stage in their history.”

The RSF says it is still committed to Igad's call for a meeting as well as calls to end the war and allow humanitarian corridors. But its latest violence in al-Jezira state, south of Khartoum, has poured out at least 300,000 new internally displaced persons fleeing for safety, according to UN agencies.

External pressure has been mounting on both Burhan and Hemedti to call off their fighters. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken revealed last week that an agreement had been reached requiring the two generals to meet and commit to a ceasefire.

"We participated actively during the last period in an attempt to end the horror of the actual civil war between the two groups, and we helped reach an agreement that Generals Burhan and Hemedti would meet and adhere to the ceasefire."

"Now, this meeting must happen, and we are pushing hard for it to happen. This is the product of effort and daily work carried out by our diplomats, as well as many others around the world, including the African Union, Igad, and other partners."

Fighting broke out between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary force in April after weeks of tension between the two parties due to disagreements over plans to integrate the Rapid Support Forces into the military.

At the time, the army and civilian parties were putting in the final touches on an internationally supported political process. Now the transition has been severely hurt by the war.