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12 Mar, 2024 14:49

No Ramadan truce in war-torn African state – army official

The UN Security Council had called for a halt in fighting to allow humanitarian access to millions of people trapped across Sudan
No Ramadan truce in war-torn African state – army official

The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) will not agree to a ceasefire in an ongoing armed conflict, even during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, unless the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) surrender, a senior official of the national army has said.

The SAF deputy commander, Lieutenant General Yasser al-Atta, made the statement on Saturday, dismissing a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling for a truce in line with the fasting period that began on Monday.

Intense fighting broke out between the SAF and the RSF in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum in mid-April last year – during Ramadan – sparked by a power struggle between the rival armies. The UN says at least 14,600 people have been killed and 26,000 others injured in 11 months of hostilities that have spread across the African nation and allegedly taken on ethnic dimensions.

Last Thursday, while demanding a ceasefire between the warring factions, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the UNSC that the humanitarian crisis in Sudan has reached “colossal proportions,” with 25 million people in desperate need of life-saving aid.

The 15-member council approved a British-drafted resolution on Friday, asking all parties of the conflict to immediately halt hostilities and seek a long-term solution through dialogue. Only Russia abstained from the vote, arguing that the international community, including the UNSC, is only responsible for facilitating a peace process and not imposing rules and principles on a sovereign state.

In a statement on Saturday, the paramilitary RSF endorsed the UN decision, saying a Ramadan truce would provide a “crucial opportunity” for negotiations on a political settlement to the conflict.

However, in a speech to army graduates in Sudan’s eastern city of Kassala, the SAF commander said “there is no truce in Ramadan” unless the RSF adheres to an agreement reached last May during talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah to withdraw from civilian homes and public properties. The talks, mediated by Saudi Arabia and the US, were the first attempts at reconciliation since clashes erupted in the landlocked nation.

Sudan’s de facto ruler and SAF leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, also recently demanded Niamey’s reinstatement in the African Union in exchange for accepting the bloc’s mediation mission to end the armed conflict. The war-torn state was suspended from the pan-African body following a coup in 2021.