African bloc to hold emergency summit on Sudan conflict
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African trade bloc, has called for an emergency meeting about the conflict in Sudan, where fighting between paramilitary forces and the national army has been ongoing since mid-April.
The summit, the date of which has yet to be announced, will be devoted to discussing the escalating crisis, with South Sudan confirming attendance, local media reported on Monday.
“The IGAD secretariat is currently finalizing the summit agenda and is seeking input from member states,” South Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Minister James Pitia Morgan said, according to the Sudan Tribune news agency.
“These inputs reflect the visions of the IGAD leaders on how they envision restoring peace and stability in Sudan,” Morgan added.
The decision to hold the meeting was made on Sunday after talks between Sudan’s military leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh, and IGAD’s Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu. Guelleh is the chairman of the eight-state Horn of Africa IGAD bloc.
The parties agreed on the need for a long-term ceasefire to end the violence in Sudan, which has killed an estimated 9,000 people and displaced nearly 6.2 million others, according to the UN.
The Sudanese government had previously declined to attend a meeting organized by the bloc in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa that was intended kick-start a peace process. General al-Burhan rejected Kenyan President William Ruto as chairman of the committee mediating the talks, claiming that Nairobi has sided with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
However, earlier this month, the Sudan Armed Forces chief met with Ruto, and both sides announced that they had agreed to work on an urgent regional summit to find ways to speed up a peace process that was initiated by the US and Saudi Arabia in the first weeks of the hostilities.
IGAD has insisted on “African solutions to African problems” and has urged the global community to support its joint efforts with the African Union to end the conflict in Sudan, which has now entered its seventh month.
The regional authority had previously considered sending troops into the conflict-torn country to protect civilians after several calls for the warring factions to stop fighting have proven ineffective.