Kartoum: Two warring generals in Sudan have agreed “in principle” to a seven-day truce pending talks aimed at ending a conflict that’s wracked the North African country for more than two weeks, the government of neighbouring South Sudan said.
The proposed ceasefire, which would begin May 4, was brokered by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, who spoke to army chief Abdul Fattah Al Burhan and Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo, who leads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said. The two generals will now name representatives to the peace talks, which will begin as soon as possible at a venue of their choice, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
The fighting erupted on April 15 and the United Nations estimates that it has claimed the lives of more than 500 people and sent about 100,000 fleeing across borders. Several previous truces haven’t been implemented and it’s unclear whether the latest one will hold.
“The rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Khartoum,” the capital, made it imperative to de-escalate the crisis, Kiir’s administration said.
The conflict, the culmination of a long-simmering struggle between the army and the RSF, has upended plans for a power-sharing government that was supposed to lead the nation of about 45 million people to democratic elections after a 2021 coup.
Airstrikes, heavy shelling and gunfire have continued across strategic sites in Khartoum, as the army sought to target bases and supply lines used by the RSF, according to Western diplomats and an internal UN document seen by Bloomberg.
Meeting in Saudi Arabia
A UN spokesperson said earlier Tuesday that a meeting between Burhan and Dagalo in Saudi Arabia “- which has strongly backed both sides in recent years “- has been agreed to but a date hasn’t yet been set. A competing effort to broker talks by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a bloc of regional African countries, could complicate matters, people briefed on the situation said.
In statements, both sides accused the other of breaking a previously agreed ceasefire. Spokespeople for the army and RSF didn’t respond to questions regarding peace talks.
The AU will hold an emergency meeting involving senior regional officials on Tuesday afternoon to discuss how to end the conflict, AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat’s office said in a statement.
But in a dangerous turn, Human Rights Watch said militia members from the ethnic Massalit and well-armed Arab communities in the Darfur region have joined the fray to “devastating” effect, destroying property and pillaging residential neighbourhoods.
Regional leaders have repeatedly warned that a protracted conflict in Sudan could bring in the various ethnic militias, insurgencies and rebel groups that operate in the area’s mineral-rich borderlands.
In Nyala, southern Darfur, robberies and incidents of looting have been widespread in recent days, an internal UN document dated April 30 said. It noted the city’s administration appeared to have split between the two warring parties.