Fighting continues in Sudan as rival armies meet for negotiations in Saudi Arabia

Picture taken from video shows clouds of black smoke over Bahri, also known as Khartoum North Sudan, May 1, 2023 Reuters

Fighting was reported in the south of Khartoum on Sunday as representatives from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, since Saturday for negotiation talks. This is the first face-to-face meeting between the rival factions since the beginning of the conflict in Sudan, 3 weeks ago.

These talks backed by the US and Saudi Arabia are aimed at putting an end to the fighting. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Faisal bin Farhan, welcomed both parties on Saturday and said he hoped the negotiations would “lead to the end of the conflict and the return of security and stability to the Republic of Sudan”

In a statement released on Friday, the US and Saudi Arabia “urged” both parties to consider the interests of the Sudanese population. They also called the representatives of the SAF and the RSF to “actively engage in the talks towards a ceasefire and end to the conflict.” 

However, both the RSF and SAF have said they are willing to discuss a humanitarian truce, not an end to the war.

Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, the leader of the RSF said on Twitter he appreciated the efforts to establish a ceasefire and to provide aid for the Sudanese population

Nonetheless, Dagalo has vowed to capture or kill his rival Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of the SAF and de facto ruler of Sudan.

As the negotiation talks are happening, sources reported to CNN that RSF fighters are trying to take control of “strategically located” hospitals that can be used as bases for the paramilitary force.

The RSF has reportedly already taken full control of Omdurman Maternity Hospital. “During the past days, they (have) controlled the maternity hospital in Omdurman. It is the biggest obstetrics and gynecology hospital in the whole country. (The RSF have parked) many of their vehicles inside the hospital yard. It will provide them with a very good cover … It will be impossible for the army (SAF) to strike it by air because the surrounding area is full of civilians, it is in the middle of three big neighborhoods.” said CNN’s source.

Additionally, a manager from another hospital in Khartoum told CNN “These gangs are becoming more aggressive, robbing banks and markets, and destroying shops. They have already stolen a large amount of money from the Khartoum Bank. There is a complete absence of police, and the army is not able to secure many routes,”

The conflict broke out on the 15th of April. At the heart of the armed clashes are two men vying for power: the Sudan Armed Forces general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

Both of them used to be allies and worked together to overthrow Sudan’s former dictator, Omar al-Bashir. They also worked together to organise a coup and overthrow a joint military-civilian government in 2021.

However, since then, tensions between the two men and their armies have escalated over the proposed integration of the RSF into Sudan’s military. This proposition was a key condition of a framework deal aimed at facilitating a transition towards democracy ahead of the next elections.

So far the conflict has killed hundreds of people, including 190 children according to UNICEF data. It has also displaced almost 450,000 civilians since the beginning of the conflict. Thousands are attempting to flee to Saudi Arabia on boats or flights through the only functioning airport in the country. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 115,000 people sought refuge in neighboring countries.

Follow @3flowradio