Several East African countries were hoping for the start of the dialogue in Addis Ababa between the Rapid Support Forces and regular troops, but the Sudanese army on Monday boycotted the peace initiative, led by the Kenyan head of state, whose Sudanese government condemns the “bias”.
There will therefore not have been the beginning of the dialogue that Ethiopia was hoping for. The Sudanese army on Monday July 10 in Addis Ababa boycotted peace talks proposed by East African countries to end this war that has ravaged Sudan for three months, where fighting continues.
Clashes between paramilitaries from Gen. Mohamed Hamdane Daglo’s Rapid Support Forces (FSR) and Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhane’s regular troops have resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths since April 15, a vastly underestimated toll, both the bodies littering the streets are unavailable.
The war has also created three million displaced persons and refugees, and while no diplomatic initiative has so far produced more than a few hours of ceasefire, Sudan is now, according to the UN, “on the brink of “a potentially destabilizing all-out civil war for the entire region”.
Worried at first, and yet sidelined for a long time by the American and Saudi mediators, the countries of East Africa are trying to regain control. But the “Quartet” of Igad, made up of Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia and South Sudan, is led by Kenyan head of state William Ruto, whose Sudanese government denounces “bias”.
“Our delegation arrived in Addis Ababa on Monday morning (…) but was informed that the chairmanship of the group of four had not been replaced” as the government had demanded, the Sudanese foreign ministry said in a statement.
Calling for an unconditional ceasefire
In its final communique, the Quartet regrets “the regrettable absence of the delegation from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), although invited and having confirmed its participation”. General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, head of the FSR, had for his part sent his political adviser to Addis Ababa. In a statement, the FSR condemned “irresponsible behavior”.
The Quartet nevertheless assures “mobilization and concentration of efforts by all stakeholders to bring the leaders of the two warring parties to meet face to face”. The Quartet again called for “the signing of an unconditional ceasefire” between the Sudanese belligerents.
Igad calls for a summit of the East African Standby Force (EASF) “to study a possible deployment” of the latter in Sudan “to protect civilians and guarantee humanitarian access”. The EASF is one of the five regional components of the African Standby Force (ASF), a peacekeeping force under the African Union (AU), whose operational reality faces many challenges.
Mubarak Ardol, a former Sudanese rebel now aligned with the army, condemned “a plan to occupy Sudan at a meeting aimed at promoting military intervention” and praised the army for boycotting the meeting.
Battles are still going on
Molly Phee, US Under Secretary of State for Africa, is also in Addis Ababa on Monday and Tuesday to meet with regional and Sudanese officials. In a statement on Sunday, she said she called on the two Sudanese warring parties to “immediately stop the fighting”. It also says “to accept the calls of the countries of the region to prevent any foreign interference and military support that would exacerbate or prolong the conflict”.
According to experts on the matter, the two camps have strong support beyond Sudan’s borders: the Egyptian neighbor to the north supports the army, while the United Arab Emirates and the Russian mercenaries from Wagner are on the FSR’s side.
On the ground, residents told AFP of fighting and airstrikes in various neighborhoods of Khartoum. “Rockets fell on civilians’ houses,” one of them said. There was also fighting in El-Obeid, 350km south of Khartoum, witnesses said. And an army source said regular troops had ‘repelled an attack’ by a rebel group in Blue Nile state, which borders Ethiopia
On Saturday, dozens of civilians were killed in the northwestern suburbs of Khartoum in a raid blamed on the air force. The bombing, which took place on Saturday in the residential neighborhood of Dar al-Salam in Omdurman, left 22 civilians dead and a large number injured, according to the ministry.