Sudan: Rapid Support Forces leader Hemedti threatens to set up government with Khartoum as capital

Sudan: Rapid Support Forces leader Hemedti threatens to set up government with Khartoum as capital
With no hope for peace in sight, Sudan's RSF paramilitaries have threatened to set up a rival governing body if the Sudanese army do the same in the areas of the county they control, while Egypt announces another meeting of Sudan's neighbours at UN.
2 min read
15 September, 2023
Hemedti has threatened to establish a rival government in Khartoum if the army set one up in Port Sudan [Getty]

The head of Sudan's main paramilitary group threatened on Thursday to set up a governing authority in areas his forces control if his enemies in the army form a government.

Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo has been fighting the army for almost five months in a conflict that has wrecked the country and triggered a humanitarian crisis.

Last month, a senior figure in Sudan's Sovereign Council, headed by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said a caretaker government was needed.

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On Thursday Dagalo, known as Hemedti, said: "If the army forms the government, we will immediately initiate broad consultations to establish a genuine civilian authority in areas under our extensive control with Khartoum as the capital."

He added that any move by the army to set up a caretaker government in the eastern Red Sea port of Port Sudan would split the country.

While the RSF has fanned out across residential areas throughout Khartoum and neighbouring Bahri and Omdurman, the army has used its advantage of heavy artillery and air strikes to try to push them back, resulting in hundreds of civilian casualties.

However, the RSF, in particular, have also been implicated in a host of ethnically driven atrocities in Darfur, including mass sexual violence against women and children who belong to African ethnic groups, which has only escalated as the war has continued. 

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Egypt to host new meeting of 'Sudan neighbours'

Hemedti's warning comes as Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry revealed on Thursday that during a call with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that the two discussed Egypt  hosting talks at the UN General Assembly between Sudan's neighbours towards finding a lasting peace.

"Egypt intends to invite foreign ministers of neighboring countries to a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York next week," Shoukry said without providing further details.

Egypt hosted a summit for Sudan's neighboring countries in July and called for an end to the fighting and the commencement of negotiations. These talks yielded no notable positive changes, with the situation on the ground vastly deteriorating since then. 

The army and RSF began fighting on April 15, after tensions arose over integration of their troops in a new transition to democracy. While several countries have launched mediation efforts, none has succeeded in bringing a halt to the fighting. 

(The New Arab Staff and Reuters)