Sudanese paramilitary head commits to de-escalate tensions with army

Mediators say General Dagalo is ready to meet the army chief to de-escalate a rift between his Rapid Support Forces and the armed forces

By Reuters

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General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. — Reuters file
General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. — Reuters file

Published: Fri 14 Apr 2023, 7:51 PM

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of a powerful Sudanese paramilitary group, said he was ready to meet the army chief to de-escalate a rift between his Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the armed forces, mediators said on Friday.

The army on Thursday warned of a possible confrontation between the two forces in the most public sign of long-simmering disagreements that are hampering efforts to restore civilian rule.

The RSF began redeploying units in the capital Khartoum and elsewhere amid talks last month on its integration into the military under a transition plan leading to new elections.

The situation escalated after the deployment of some RSF forces near a major military airport in the northern city of Merowe on Wednesday, according to local and military sources, prompting the army to make a statement saying the moves were illegal on Thursday.

RSF chief Dagalo, better known in Sudan as Hemedti, is deputy leader of the ruling Sovereign Council headed by army chief General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan.

Sources close to both men said on Friday that they still remain at odds over who would be the commander-in-chief of the military during a multi-year integration period, which the RSF says should be the civilian head of state, a situation the army rejects.

After the growing rift surfaced on Thursday several local and international players stepped forward with offers of mediation, including Finance Minister Jibril Ibrahim, Darfur Governor Minni Minawi and Sovereign Council member Malik Agar, three former rebel leaders who received posts following a 2020 peace deal.

"After an honest and serious conversation, assured us of his total commitment to not escalate, and his readiness to sit with his brother the head of the Sovereign Council and his brothers in the armed forces at any time and without condition," a statement from the three men said.

Army sources told Reuters that in order to de-escalate the RSF needed to withdraw its forces from Merowe, and that its movements needed to happen in coordination with the military and within legal limits.

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