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Burhan orders 'dissolution of RSF' as Sudan clashes rage on

Burhan orders 'dissolution of RSF' as Sudan fighting intensifies
4 min read
17 April, 2023
Sudan's military ruler has blamed his former partners the RSF for igniting a 'rebellion' against Sudan and sworn to disband the paramilitary.
Fighting in residential areas has killed scores of civilians across Sudan [Getty images]

Sudan army chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan on Monday ordered the dissolution of the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and branded it as a rebellious group, after three days of intense fighting between the two sides.

The RSF had been slated for incorporation into the Sudanese army but this failed to happen earlier this month "due to the intransigence of RSF leaders", according to the foreign ministry, leading Burhan to officially dissolve the force. 

Fight for power

Fighting continued to spread across Sudan for a third day as the Sudanese army and the RSF vie for control of key sites in Khartoum and beyond, while civilians fear that the conflict may have only just begun.  

Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo - who commands the powerful RSF and is formally Al-Burhan's deputy - are now locked in a fight "fight for power", according to military analyst Mamoun Abu Nuwar.

The RSF said on Monday that they had taken control of Merowe International Airport. Footage purportedly showing a burning plane at the airport was shared on social media. The paramilitary force also claimed to have surrounded Al-Burhan's home.

The military flatly denied the RSF claims with al-Burhan vowing to implement the dissolution of the group.

Residents said they have begun to flee the capital, amid a curfew that has led to acute food shortages as Ramadan draws to a close. 

"Despite advice to stay home, many are moving southwards towards Gezira state where there is no fighting. [This] implies many think this conflict won't be over soon. Unfortunately, language from the generals suggests they may be right," tweeted Sudanese analyst Kholood Khair. 

Witnesses in the centre of Khartoum said that a shell hit the emergency services department of a key hospital, causing injuries and trapping staff and patients in the building. 

Violence breaks out

Long-anticipated violence came to a head on Saturday after weeks of tension between the two generals who seized power in a 2021 coup.

In 2021, both leaders had set out a timeline for a return to civilian rule, which elapsed last week. 

Residents in Khartoum and Omdurman have spoken of airstrikes carried out by the Sudanese armed forces, aiming at RSF positions in densely populated areas. 

Egyptian soldiers captured

The RSF said it captured a number of Egyptian soldiers stationed at the Merowe military base when its troops stormed the facility on Saturday.

The paramilitary force said on Monday that it was committed to ensuring the safety of all military personnel in its custody.

There were disputed reports on Sunday that the Sudanese army had reclaimed the base and the RSF had left it but taken the Egyptian soldiers with them.

Egypt has said that its forces were there to "conduct joint training with their Sudanese counterparts" and would be prepared to work with RSF to return the troops home. 

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Food supplies running short 

The violence has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to suspend deliveries of food aid amid the escalating fighting whose casualties also included three of its staffers. 

"We cannot do our lifesaving work if the safety and security of our teams and partners is not guaranteed," WFP said in a statement.

Last September, the WFP reported that at least 15 million people, or one-third of the population, were facing hunger in Sudan.