On Wednesday, Sudan’s army and a paramilitary force clashed on the outskirts of Khartoum, violating their 11-day truce.
However, the army expressed a willingness to extend the ceasefire, stating that its leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, gave initial approval to a plan to extend the truce for another 72 hours and send an army envoy to the South Sudan capital, Juba, for talks.
The Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) had previously agreed to a three-day ceasefire due to expire late on Thursday.
The military revealed that the proposal to extend the truce and talks between the two forces was borne out of a plan worked on by the presidents of South Sudan, Kenya, and Djibouti. The army statement said that Burhan thanked the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and expressed initial approval. However, there was no immediate response from the RSF.
The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat discussed working together to bring a sustainable end to the conflict.
Some of the heaviest fighting on Wednesday took place in Omdurman, a city adjoining Khartoum. In Khartoum, gangs looted and marauded, while elsewhere, air strikes and artillery have claimed at least 512 lives and wounded nearly 4,200 since fighting erupted on April 15, causing hospitals’ destruction and limiting food distribution.
The World Health Organisation has warned that only 16% of health facilities are functioning in Khartoum, and predicted a rise in deaths from disease, food shortages, and lack of water and medical services, including immunization. An estimated 50,000 acutely malnourished children have, therefore, had treatment disrupted due to the conflict.
According to a UN update on Wednesday, deadly clashes broke out in West Darfur’s Geneina on Tuesday and Wednesday, leading to looting and civilian deaths and raising concerns about escalating ethnic tensions.
The crisis has also led to growing numbers of refugees crossing Sudan’s borders, with the UN refugee agency estimating that 270,000 people could flee into South Sudan and Chad alone. The crisis has even resulted in death, with the White House announcing a second American citizen’s demise.
Beyond the humanitarian crisis, civilian groups fear that the military may tighten its grip and revive the ousted autocrat’s loyalists. Sudan’s Forces of Freedom and Change (FCC) warned that the war ignited by the “ousted regime” would lead to the country’s collapse.
The plan to transfer to civilian rule, which the FCC leads, had missed an April deadline to launch the transition to democracy, mainly because of disputes over merging the security forces.
Civilian groups have also accused groups loyal to Bashir of using the conflict to find a way back to power.
The ICC in The Hague has charged Bashir with genocide and Haroun with organising militias to attack civilians in Darfur in 2003 and 2004: the whereabouts of the former dictator came into question after a former minister in his government, Ali Haroun, announced that he had left Kober prison with other former officials.