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Sudan in turmoil as rival factions clash

  • April 26, 2023
  • 3 min read
Sudan in turmoil as rival factions clash

Sudan is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, with hundreds of people killed and thousands more wounded in recent fighting. The violence erupted in the capital of Khartoum and other parts of the country, and has left a trail of destruction in its wake.

Rival military factions have begun to battle for control of the country and its future and this has seen over 420 people, over half of them being civilians killed, and 3,700 wounded by the violence.

The conflict is between Sudan’s army and a paramilitary group called Rapid Support Force (RSF) and has stranded thousands of foreigners including diplomats and aid workers. The UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have closed their embassies and are working to evacuate any nationals in the country through Port Sudan on the Red Sea, 500 miles northeast of the capital. This is being complicated as major airports have become battlegrounds and movements out of the capital is becoming dangerous.

British families caught in the middle of the fighting have accused the UK government of abandoning them. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has praised diplomatic efforts to ensure safe passage and foreign secretary James Cleverly has been involved in negotiations with the Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell, assuring them that every avenue is being pursued. Alicia Kearns, Tory chairwoman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has confirmed that there are as many as 3-4,000 people hoping to be evacuated, adding that those on the ground are in “abject fear,” having little food and water left and fearing that they could starve.

Tensions between the army and the RSF have been building after the two toppled te civilian government in a coup in October 2021. After an internationally backed plan to launch a new transition with civilian parties, the friction was brought to a head. A final deal was due to be signed in April on the anniversary of the overthrow of autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir in an uprising.

Both the army and RSF were expected to give up power under the plan. But the timetable for the RSF to be integrated to the army and the army being under civilian oversight proved contentious. As fighting in Sudan erupted on the 15th of April, both sides pinned the blame on the other for provoking the violence. The army claimed that the RSF had illegally mobilised in the previous days while the RSF said that the army tried to seize full power in a plot with loyalists to Bashir.

Western powers including the US and UK had backed a transition towards democratic elections following the overthrow of Bashir. This included suspending financial support after the coup and continuing their support for a planned new transition and civilian government. International governments are calling for a ceasefire and return to dialogue but there seems to be little sign of this from the battling factions. The army has labelled the RSF as a rebel force, demanding its dissolution while Hemedti calls Burhan a criminal, blaming him for destroying the country.

Image: Bertramz
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