RSF Commander Says Ready to End War in Sudan, Begin Negotiations

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Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo with IGAD leaders (credit english.aawsat.com)

The Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has confirmed to UN and European envoys that he is ready to stop the war and negotiate to end Sudan’s crisis.

Earlier, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry suspended its involvement with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) after the Authority invited Dagalo to attend the scheduled summit in Uganda to discuss developments in Sudan and Somalia.

The Sudanese government and army commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan did not attend the IGAD summit.

Dagalo arrived in the Ugandan capital and met with international officials on the summit’s sidelines, but he did not give a speech at the opening session.

Several delegations from various countries and international organizations participated in the opening session, including Saudi Arabia, the US, Egypt, Türkiye, UAE, Arab League (AL), and the African Union (AU), as well as the President of Djibouti, the current chair of IGAD, and Uganda as the host country.

The participants agreed on the importance of avoiding military escalation, ceasing hostilities, and committing to protecting civilians.

During his visit, Hemedti met in two separate meetings with the UN Special Envoy for Sudan, Ramtane Lamamra, and the EU Envoy to the Horn of Africa, Annette Weber.

Hemedti said that he discussed with Lamamra the current developments in Sudan in light of the ongoing war incited by the “terror-driven former regime and its allies” from within the Sudanese Armed Forces, who seek to “escalate this conflict by all available means.”

“I emphasized to Mr. Lamamra our firm commitment to achieving peace and stability for the people of Sudan — to pave the way for a new Sudanese state based on equitable foundations and genuine civilian-led democratic rule that alleviates injustices for all Sudanese,” he added on his X account.

In turn, Lamamra also posted about the meeting on his X account, saying: “In the context of my initial contacts in my capacity as Personal Envoy of Antonio Guterres, I discussed with Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo on 17/01/2024 in Kampala the prospects for achieving peace in Sudan as well as the role of the UN in strengthening the efforts made to that end.”

Later, Dagalo met with the EU special representative for the Horn of Africa and briefed the official on the reasons behind the war in Sudan, which was initiated by the “extremist former regime and its collaborators from within the Sudanese Armed Forces.”

“They continue to prolong this conflict to maintain their illegitimate, de facto government, which was formed by their attempted coup,” he wrote on the X platform.

Dagalo asserted that he was fully prepared to cease hostilities and engage in negotiations to alleviate the people’s suffering.

“Our aim is to foster security, peace, and stability in Sudan.”

“We eagerly anticipate heightened support and involvement from Sudan’s brotherly and sisterly nations across the world, notably the EU and our regional partners. In these challenging times, we hope to secure further assistance for our people. This includes vital humanitarian aid for the areas most affected, including Khartoum, Gezeira, Kordofan, Darfur, and other crisis-stricken regions,” he said.

– Protest

Meanwhile, dozens gathered in Port Sudan in support of the Army Commander, denouncing RSF violations against civilians and IGAD’s policies towards Sudan.

Leaders of political and civil organizations, including youth and feminist associations, led by the Sudan Women’s Initiative, which accuses RSF of committing “rape” crimes against women in Sudan, participated in the protest.

The protesters criticized IGAD’s “wrong policies” towards Sudan, and the “negative role” in further creating tensions in the country.

Speakers at the protest urged the Sudanese government to end involvement with the Authority and support the army to end the expansionist movement of RSF.

– Health Services

On Thursday, the Sudanese army launched air strikes on several RSF headquarters, and witnesses told AWP news agency that the military aircraft shelled for the first time el-Geneina with barrel bombs without causing any casualties among civilians.

The Rapid Support Forces accused the army forces of bombing Wadi al-Zarq, killing 12 people, including women and children, and the destruction of dozens of homes.

In Khartoum, witnesses reported that artillery shelling from the Wadi Saydna military area, north of Omdurman, targeted several neighborhoods controlled by the Rapid Support Forces in the west and center of the city.

RSF responded with artillery targeted at Bahri towards army forces in northern Omdurman.

Furthermore, the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) mission in Sudan warned that over the past few months, people in Khartoum State have become increasingly cut off from healthcare in the context of ongoing fighting in the country.

In a press release issued Thursday, the organization stated that very few medical facilities remain functional, depriving three million people of lifesaving medical services.

It warned that for the first time in more than 90 days, a limited number of travel permits have been granted for humanitarian staff to access areas controlled by the RSF.

– Fact-finding

In addition, the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Sudan began its work this week, calling on Sudan’s warring parties to end the nation’s armed conflict.

The three-member team called on the warring parties to fulfill their obligations to protect civilians and ensure perpetrators of grave violations and crimes are held to account.

The Mission said that allegations of “rapes targeting mainly women and girls and the alleged recruitment of children for use in hostilities are among the priority concerns for our investigations.”

Chair of the Fact-Finding Mission Mohamed Chande Othman reported that Sudanese civil society organizations and other interlocutors have started sharing allegations of ongoing serious violations.

“These allegations underscore the importance of accountability, the necessity of our investigations, and the vital need for the violence to end immediately.”

Mission member, former UN independent expert on human rights in Somalia Mona Rishmawi, asserted that the warring parties have international legal obligations to protect civilians from attacks, guarantee humanitarian access, and refrain from murders, forced displacement, torture, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances under any circumstances.

“We will carefully verify all allegations received and carry out our fact-finding independently and impartially.”

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