Sudan’s generals agree to meet in efforts to end their devastating war: regional bloc
Sudan’s warring generals agreed to hold a face-to-face meeting as part of efforts to establish a ceasefire and initiate political talks to end the country’s devastating war, an African regional bloc said Sunday.
Sudan slipped into chaos after soaring tensions between military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, exploded into open fighting in mid-April in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere across the country.
The country has been in turmoil for several years, ever since a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The short-lived transition to democracy was derailed when the two generals joined forces to lead a military coup in October 2021. After they fell out, war followed 18 months later.
The conflict has wrecked the country and killed up to 9,000 people by October, according to the United Nations.
However, activists and doctors’ groups say the real toll is far higher.
In a meeting of the leaders of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, a grouping of East African countries, both Sudanese generals agreed to “an unconditional cease-fire and resolution of the conflict through political dialogue,” and to hold a “a one-to-one meeting,” the bloc said in a statement Sunday.
Burhan, who chairs Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council, attended the meeting Saturday in Djibouti, which holds the rotating IGAD presidency.
Meanwhile, Dagalo, whose whereabouts are unknown, spoke by phone with IGAD leaders.
The statement gave no further details, including when and where the two generals would meet.
However, Alexis Mohamed, an adviser to Djibouti's president, said Sunday on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the Sudanese generals “accepted the principle of meeting within 15 days in order to pave the way for a series of confidence-building measures” that would eventually lead to political talks to end the conflict in Sudan.
Did you know that an estimated 9000 people have been killed, 5.7 million have been displaced and 1.2 million have fled to neighbouring countries because of the conflict in Sudan? pic.twitter.com/v7zqKTnlfT— Document Women (@DocumentWomen) December 5, 2023
There was no immediate comment from either the Sudanese military or the RSF.
The administration of US President Joe Biden welcomed the generals' commitment to a ceasefire and a face-to-face meeting and called for them to “abide by these commitments and enter talks without delay,” said Matthew Miller, spokesman for the State Department.
IGAD is part of mediation efforts to end the conflict, along with Saudi Arabia and the United States which facilitated rounds of indirect talks between the warring parties as recently as early in November.
When the war began, fighting initially centered in Khartoum but quickly spread to other areas, including the western region of Darfur.
More than 6 million people were forced out of their homes, including 1.2 million who have sought refuge in neighboring countries, according to the UN figures.
In Darfur, which was the site of a genocidal campaign in the early 2000s, the conflict has morphed into ethnic violence, with the RSF and allied Arab militias attacking ethnic African groups, according to rights groups and the UN
The US State Department said earlier this month that the RSF and the Sudanese military were responsible for either war crimes or crimes against humanity, or both, in Darfur.