Tensions erupted in Khartoum as a result of a power struggle between the country’s military and paramilitary forces
The battle for control of Sudan has entered its fifth day, following the failure of a 24-hour armistice declared on Tuesday by the Sudanese military and a rival paramilitary group.
What is the current situation in Sudan?
There is heavy fighting in the country’s capital, Khartoum, the adjoining city of Omdurman, and in other flashpoints after clashes broke out between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on Saturday. At least 270 people have been killed and more than 2,600 others injured in the armed conflict, the World Health Organization has estimated, citing Sudan’s Ministry of Health. The Sudan Doctors Union said on Wednesday that more than half of the hospitals in the capital and adjacent cities have been left incapable of serving patients after some were bombed, while others were attacked and looted.
What is the cause of the conflict?
The conflict is being fueled by a power struggle between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads the SAF, and his rival, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, leader of the RSF. Tensions have arisen from a dispute over the integration of the RSF, a paramilitary force, into the country’s armed forces, as well as the jurisdiction that should supervise this procedure. The merging process is a crucial requirement outlined in Sudan’s transition agreement, which was initially planned for April 1 but as yet has not been signed.
What is the transition agreement?
In April 2019, a military coup jointly staged by the RSF and SAF led to the ousting of President Omar al-Bashir, who had been in power for 30 years. A power-sharing agreement was reached in August 2019 between the Transitional Military Council and the Alliance for Freedom and Change, forming an 11-member Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) to pave the way for a civilian-led transitional government. The country has since been governed by the TSC, with army chief al-Burhan as president and the RSF’s Hemeti serving as deputy chairman. Another coup in October 2021 disrupted the transition agreement, leading to a new deal last December.
Why does the RSF oppose integration into the country’s armed forces?
There were reports of a disagreement between Hemeti and al-Burhan over the appointment of the commander-in-chief of the military during the multi-year integration period, with the RSF advocating for the civilian head of state to take up the position, which the army opposes. Adel Abdel Ghafar, a fellow at the Middle East Council, also told the media that the RSF “has resisted integration into the army” because it fears “it would lose its power.”
How has the conflict affected the international community?
Fighters have reportedly targeted aid workers, hospitals, and diplomats. Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said on Monday that the EU ambassador to Sudan “was assaulted in his own residency.” A convoy of US embassy vehicles also allegedly came under attack on the same day. The Indian Embassy also announced on Sunday that one of its nationals “who got hit by a stray bullet” on Saturday had “succumbed to his injuries.” The UN World Food Programme temporarily halted its operations in Sudan after three employees were killed.
What is the way forward?
Pressure is mounting on the warring parties to call a halt to the fighting so that stranded residents can receive desperately needed relief and supplies. Both sides have accused the other of violating the previous ceasefire. The RSF has again announced its “full commitment to a complete ceasefire” in the next 24 hours, “starting from six o’clock in the evening today, Wednesday, corresponding to 4/19/2023, until six o’clock in the evening tomorrow, Thursday, 20/4/2023.” The group has urged its adversary, which has yet to comment on the proposal, to “abide by the armistice according to the announced time.”
According to Al Jazeera, while other countries are concerned that the conflict could escalate, the Sudanese doctors’ committee has warned of a looming “paralysis of the health system in Sudan.”
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