Sudan still at war hours after a ceasefire was scheduled to commence

This satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows burning buildings and military patrol northeast of Khartoum International Airport, Sudan, on April 17, 2023. (Photo: AP)

Hours after a ceasefire brokered by the international community was supposed to take effect in Sudan, forces loyal to opposing generals fought for strategic locations in the capital and accused each other of violating the ceasefire.

Minutes after the agreed-upon 6 p.m. (16:00 GMT) commencement of the ceasefire, multiple television news channels in the Khartoum capital region broadcasted live with gunfire audible in the background.

The regular army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) released statements that accused each other of violating the ceasefire. The army's high command stated that operations to secure the capital and other regions would continue.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the United Nations, stated at a news briefing in New York, "We have not received any indications that the fighting has ceased."

The conflict between Sudan's military leader and his deputy on Sudan's ruling council erupted four days ago, derailing an internationally backed plan to transition to a civilian democracy four years after former leader Omar al-Bashir was deposed by mass protests and two years after a military coup.

The conflict has precipitated what the United Nations has termed a humanitarian catastrophe, including the near collapse of the health care system. The World Food Programme suspended operations following the death of three of its employees.

According to the United Nations, at least 185 individuals have been killed in the conflict.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on Tuesday in Japan that he had called the two rival leaders – army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo – and pleaded for a ceasefire "to allow the Sudanese to be safely reunited with their families" and to provide them with relief.

Sides Say They Are For Truce

According to statements made to Al Jazeera, both factions support the ceasefire.

"We are eager to implement the ceasefire and return normalcy to the city. "However, the RSF is a militia that does not respect anything," said army spokesman Colonel Khaled Al-Akida.

The RSF has stated that it will uphold its end of the truce agreement.

Musa Khaddam, the adviser to the commander of the RSF, told Al Jazeera, "Our forces deployed in various areas of Khartoum are committed to the truce."

Al-Burhan presides over a ruling council imposed after a military coup in 2021 and the removal of al-Bashir in 2019, with Dagalo – also known as Hemedti – serving as his deputy.

After decades of autocracy and military dominance in Sudan, where the country lies at a strategic crossroads between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Africa's volatile Sahel, their power struggle has stalled the transition to civilian rule.

Without supervision, the violence risks attracting actors from Sudan's region who have supported different factions.

An earlier, lesser ceasefire agreement for Sunday was also primarily disregarded. Artillery barrages, attacks by combat aircraft, and street fighting have rendered travel in Khartoum nearly impossible, trapping residents and expatriates in their homes.

According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, providing humanitarian assistance near the capital is virtually impossible. It warned that the Sudanese health system was in danger of failing.

Publish : 2023-04-19 11:33:00

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