Sudan to form new joint force to ‘crack down on insecurity’

The new force will include the RSF paramilitary unit, police, armed forces, and ‘representatives’ of rebel groups.

Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces soldiers secure the area as they wait for the arrival of Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo before a meeting in Aprag village
The announcement comes as an economic crisis and growing violence threatens a fragile political transition process [File: Umit Bektas/Reuters]

Sudan’s military has announced plans to create a joint force to “crack down on insecurity” and assert the state’s authority in the capital and nationwide as an economic crisis and regional tensions plague a fragile transition towards elections.

The announcement was made through an order from General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, that was published late on Thursday.

Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, is head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which will be part of the new force with the police, military, General Intelligence Service and “representatives” of rebel groups and the public prosecutor, the order said.

The force would be formed “immediately”, under the leadership of sovereign council member General Yasser al-Atta, according to the order.

Local news outlet Star Tribune reported that the order directed state governors to work with military and security agencies to form the joint force.

Dagalo also ordered the signatory rebel groups to get their members under control and designate gathering places.

In a speech this week defending reforms meant to tackle a deep economic crisis and stabilise a political transition towards elections, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said there was a danger of chaos or civil war fomented by loyalists of the previous leadership.

The latest of those reforms was the removal of fuel subsidies last week, which came as annual inflation has risen to 379 percent, causing a public outcry.

Sudanese authorities have warned about “gangs and criminal groups” which they blame for disturbances in the capital, Khartoum, in recent days.

Violence rising across Sudan

Sudan’s Darfur region has also seen an uptick in deadly violence, as has the country’s eastern region, since the installation of a military-civilian power-sharing government in mid-2019.

A peace agreement signed late last year called for the integration of rebel groups into a unified national army which has not yet begun.

UN special representative Volker Perthes told a news conference this week he was concerned about the delay, adding that he considered the police to be best suited to protect civilians.

Dagalo’s RSF, which emerged out of the Popular Defence Forces in Darfur’s conflict of the early 2000s, is viewed with mistrust by many in the country.

The group was extensively armed by Sudan’s former President Omar al-Bashir after largely non-Arab rebels took up arms in 2003 accusing the central government of political and economic marginalisation.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters