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12 Dec, 2023 10:01

Progress in Sudan's talks - mediators

An African bloc mediating the conflict said the Sudanese Army chief and his paramilitary rival had accepted a ceasefire proposal
Progress in Sudan's talks - mediators

The Sudanese rival groups engaged in deadly fighting since mid-April have agreed to a ceasefire, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African bloc involved in mediating the conflict, announced on Sunday.

According to IGAD, Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan committed to a face-to-face meeting with the commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti.

The decision was reached at a summit in Djibouti on Saturday, Alexis Mohammed, adviser to Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh, said in a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter).

The Djiboutian leader, who hosted the summit as the current chairman of the IGAD, spoke by phone with RSF chief Hemedti, who agreed to the ceasefire proposal and a meeting with General Burhan, Mohammed claimed.

The conflicting sides in the Sudanese crisis “also accepted the principle of meeting within 15 days in order to pave the way for a series of confidence-building measures between the two parties that lead to the launch of a political process,” he added.

Fighting between the SAF and RSF, which has been ongoing for nearly eight months, has killed more than 12,000 people, with an estimated 6.6 million fleeing their homes, the UN said last week.

Between October 28 and November 24 alone, 1,300 people were killed, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement, labeling Sudan “the country with the largest number of displaced people and the largest child displacement crisis in the world.

The fighting which erupted in the capital, Khartoum, has taken on an ethnic dimension, triggering waves of killings in the West Darfur region.

The UN has repeatedly accused paramilitary forces of killing hundreds of ethnic Masalits and burying some in mass graves in West Darfur. On Thursday, the OCHA reported that the RSF had detained hundreds of people, including 80 children, in Ardamata, a town near the Sudanese army base in West Darfur.

On Friday, the US concluded that both sides in the conflict had committed war crimes.

The RSF has denied all allegations, including ethnic cleansing in Darfur. The army has also denied committing war crimes.

Both factions have accused each other of killing civilians and violating previous humanitarian ceasefires.

At talks in Djibouti on Saturday, army chief Burhan accused the RSF of “barbaric attacks,” but said the army was open to finding a peaceful solution.

In a statement on Monday, General Hemedti said the “war was imposed on the RSF and the people of Sudan by the terror-driven former regime and its allies within the SAF.

He added, however, that the RSF accepts the outcomes of the IGAD summit and is willing to cooperate with the regional bloc and the international community to end the conflict and address the root causes of "Sudan's wars and establish a new democratic state."

The Sudanese paramilitary group teamed up with the army to stage a military coup in 2019 that deposed President Omar al-Bashir, who had ruled for three decades. Both forces are now at odds over a plan to integrate troops as part of the landlocked African country's transition from military to civilian rule.