Sudan war: Army to not take part in Jeddah ceasefire talks
1 June, 2023 | Vaishali Sharma
Sudan's army has withdrawn from talks over a truce and humanitarian access, raising fears of escalation in the conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousands.
Sudan’s army has withdrawn from talks over a truce and humanitarian access, raising fears of escalation in the conflict that has displaced hundreds of thousands, according to Al Jazeera.
The talks with the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began in early May in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and resulted in a declaration of commitments to protect civilians as well as two short-term ceasefire agreements that have been repeatedly violated. Just before it was set to expire late Monday, the army and the RSF agreed to extend a week-long cease-fire agreement by five days.
The general command of the armed forces announced the suspension of talks in a statement on Wednesday, accusing the other side of a lack of commitment to executing any conditions of the agreement and a continual violation of the ceasefire.
“The General Command of the Armed Forces has decided to suspend the current talks in Jeddah due to the rebel militia’s attack lack of commitment to the implementation of any of the terms of the agreement and its continuous violation of the ceasefire,” reported Al Jazeera, quoting a statement posted on Sudan News Agency website.
The RSF accused the army in the statement of disrupting the talks in Jeddah in order to weaken them and of violating the truce by attacking its positions with airpower and heavy artillery.
The African Union (AU) later stated that the suspension of talks should not deter future attempts at mediation.
Residents in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, reported fierce fighting in all three neighbouring cities that make up Sudan’s greater capital around the Nile’s confluence – Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum North – until late Tuesday.
According to Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, the goal of the meetings in Jeddah was to help civilians “reorganise their lives”, but the goal remained elusive.
He added, “We have people still leaving Khartoum. We have people still trapped in their homes because (the) RSP, according to reports, is using civilians as human shields.”
Saudi Arabia and the United States arranged and remotely monitored the truce, which they claim has been breached by both sides but has allowed aid to be delivered.
Alan Boswell, Crisis Group’s project director for the Horn of Africa, told Al Jazeera that the negotiations have always “failed to gain any traction.”
He claimed that the army was apparently persuaded to join the discussions in order to “force or convince” the RSF to withdraw from various residential neighbourhoods of Khartoum, but “that wasn’t happening.”
“The concern now is that if these Jeddah talks collapse, it confirms more or less that Sudan is basically in a freefall into a full civil war,” said Boswell.
“When I talk to diplomats, there is a growing sense of essential helplessness, as they feel like they’re watching Sudan collapse, but they are unable to get the two to stop fighting,” he added.
The war has forced approximately 1.4 million people to flee their homes, with over 350,000 crossing into neighbouring countries.
After more than six weeks, the UN estimated that more than half of the population, or 25 million people, needed assistance and protection.
The capital has been plagued by widespread looting as well as frequent power and water outages. The vast majority of hospitals have been decommissioned.
The United Nations, several relief organisations, embassies, and parts of Sudan’s central government have relocated to Port Sudan, Sudan’s Red Sea state, which has experienced little turmoil. Since former President Omar al-Bashir was deposed in a popular uprising in 2019, the army and the RSF have dominated Sudan’s executive council.
They plotted a coup in 2021, just as the council was about to hand over power to civilians, before clashing over the line of command and reforming the RSF as part of the planned transition, according to Al Jazeera.