Sudan protagonists send mixed signals as fighting continues

Friday July 21 2023
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L) and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo 'Hemedti'

Sudan's warring generals, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L) and RSF commander, General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo 'Hemedti'. PHOTO | ASHRAF SHAZLY | AFP


The protagonists in the war in Sudan appear to be giving in to concerted pressure to negotiate a political settlement. However, they differ on the post-war architecture of the country, something that could drag the peace bid.

Both Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of the Sudanese junta, and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, his erstwhile deputy and now enemy, appear to be softening their stands, going by their public statements. But they continue to fight.

Read: Region worries as Sudan rivals harden positions

A drone strike conducted by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) killed 14 people and injured 15 in Al-Azuzab and Wad Ajeeb in the south of Khartoum, on July 19.

Lt-Gen al-Burhan who has pulled out of the Jeddah Initiative sponsored by Saudi Arabia and the United States is now amenable to the talks. He had rejected an earlier proposal by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) quartet to deploy the East African standby forces.

After boycotting the Igad quartet summit in Ethiopia chaired by Kenyan president William Ruto two weeks ago, Lt-Gen al-Burhan this week sent his delegation to Jeddah to resume negotiations with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).


Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Shams al-Din Kabbashi said that the Sudan Armed Forces (Saf) is open to any serious initiative that can bring an end to the war while safeguarding national sovereignty and state institutions.

Earlier in the week, Gen al-Burhan had said that he is ready to halt hostilities on condition that RSF soldiers are removed from Khartoum.

He is demanding that RSF vacate civilian residences, water, electricity, energy facilities, and government buildings before he could consider cessation of hostilities.

Ironically, this small concession came after President Ruto—whose leadership in the Igad Initiative he had rejected—reached out to him through the phone on July 15 to persuade him to cooperate with the Igad Quartet comprising Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Djibouti. Khartoum’s foreign ministry had objected to Kenyan President William Ruto’s leadership of the Igad quartet, accusing President Ruto of siding with the RSF courtesy of business interests.

Read: Ruto, Burhan hold talks over Sudan crisis

On the other hand, Gen Daglo formed a committee to engage with political, social, and armed groups in Sudan. The committee chaired by Gen Daglo’s political advisor, Youssef Ezzat is supposed to hold consultations with all political, youth, and societal forces to determine the most efficient strategy for achieving a comprehensive solution that addresses the root causes of the political crisis in Sudan.

With this move, Gen Daglo is attempting to ally himself with the pro-democratic forces, especially the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) which has all along been opposed to the October 2021 coup. Gen Daglo’s latest statement is that his faction is keen on establishing a unified professional Sudanese Army

On December 5, 2022, SAF and RSF reached an agreement with various political factions to restore civilian government However, due to disagreements over how to integrate RSF into the national army derailed the signing of the final deal, leading to the beginning of conflict on April 15.

Now, three months since the deadly conflict broke out, the latest report by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), said that more than three million people have been displaced both within the country and across borders into neighbouring countries seeking safety.

Read: UN warns of mass exodus from Sudan

According to data collected by UNHCR and released on July 18, over 732,823 refugees have fled to Chad, Egypt, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Central African Republic (CAR). Half of the new arrivals are women and children.

 Approximately 260,390 refugees have fled to Chad while 255,565 refugees and asylum seekers have arrived in Egypt. In South Sudan, 174,340 refugees have arrived in the country, 91 percent of them being South Sudanese refugees who have returned to their country of origin. Some 25,540 refugees have also arrived in Ethiopia and another 16,988 refugees and returnees in CAR.

A UN Geneva conference in June estimated that Sudan needs $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid, which can only come from willing donors, but might not be realised as long as the fighting continues.