The head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has proposed a plan for “lasting peace” in war-torn Sudan as his rival army chief promised victory and no chance of a deal with “traitors”.
Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, the head of the RSF, late Sunday published a 10-point plan by the paramilitary group that proposes new negotiations to end a war that began in mid-April, a war he claimed the RSF “did not seek, nor initiate”.
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“Efforts to end the protracted crisis must be directed toward achieving a lasting ceasefire, coupled with comprehensive political solutions that address the root cause of Sudan’s wars,” his statement said.
Hemedti floated the idea of a “non-symmetrical federal system” that would represent Sudan’s regional, cultural and ethnic diversity after elections to form a civilian government and end “structural violence” against broad segments of Sudanese citizens.
Crucially, he proposed a new, apolitical and unified Sudanese army built from merging existing forces that would have civilian oversight and conform to internationally recognised foundations.
But the general’s proposals, which are titled Sudan Reborn and appear to be in line with international calls for shaping the country’s future, hardly correspond with the realities on the ground as the devastating war enters its 20th week.
For one, war broke out between the RSF and the Sudanese army shortly before the paramilitary force was supposed to be integrated into the army, which is led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, as part of a plan to restore civilian rule.
The two generals had staged a coup in 2021 that pushed civilian politicians out of the government, which itself came two years after they banded together to end the reign of military commander Omar al-Bashir over Sudan.
On the other hand, Hemedti and the RSF have been documented by the United Nations and prominent human rights organisations and activists to have committed ethnic cleansing as well as systemic sexual violence.
In the western region of Darfur, which was the scene of a genocidal war in the early 2000s involving forces that later evolved into the RSF, there have been widespread reports of killing African community members and rape since the start of the war.
The International Criminal Court has also said it is investigating new war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur as the UN has warned that the war “now threatens to consume the entire country”.
More than 4.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes since the start of the war, according to UN figures that say more than one million have fled to neighbouring countries, including Chad and Egypt.
Al-Burhan denounces RSF
In a speech on Monday, al-Burhan denounced the RSF as “traitors” and promised a decisive victory in a speech to soldiers, rejecting calls for a ceasefire.
“We do not make deals with traitors, we do not make deals with anyone who has betrayed the Sudanese people,” al-Burhan told cheering soldiers at the Flamingo Base in Port Sudan on the Red Sea.
Al-Burhan has embarked on a tour of bases in army-controlled regions and is expected to travel to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, prompting some to speculate that a deal was imminent.
“We are dedicating all our time to this war … to ending this rebellion,” al-Burhan said, promising a quick and decisive victory, echoing previous statements from the military leadership.
The RSF “are completely exhausted – just a little effort and they will be finished,” he said.
On Thursday, he had made an appearance outside the army’s general command centre in the capital, Khartoum, for the first time since the war began.
On Sunday, he appeared in Port Sudan, to the northeast of the country, which has been spared the worst of the fighting.
Many ceasefires in Sudan have been repeatedly violated, often immediately after coming into effect, with the two sides blaming each other for undermining the ceasefires.
Riyadh and Washington have for now stopped their mediation efforts as the two sides continue to grapple for military dominance before seriously committing to a long-term peace plan.