The Sudan Army Chief and de facto leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has issued a warning to the United Nations Security Council, cautioning that the war could spill over to neighbouring African countries in the region.
The army chief further urged the international community to declare his opponents, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), as a terrorist group. He urged them to declare this owing to the possibility of the war spreading beyond Sudan’s borders.
According to him, the RSF should be considered a terrorist group because it has committed atrocities and crimes against humanity.
“RSF has supported killing, burning, raping, forced displacement, looting, stealing, torture, trafficking of arms and drugs, bringing mercenaries or recruiting children – all such crimes necessitate accountability and punishment,” the army chief said.
The RSF leader, Hamdan Dagalo, said that he was prepared for a ceasefire while the army chief mentioned the war spilling over. This statement questions the possibility of the RSF being a terrorist group when it is willing to ceasefire.
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Burhan was speaking to the UN on Thursday, September 21, and mentioned that his party was open to peace talks. According to him, he wanted to ‘put an end to this war and alleviate the suffering of our people’ but his opponent refused.
The RSF leader, however, sent a video to the UN mentioning that they are ready to engage in talks, contrary to the army chief’s statement.
Sudan has been at war since April and thousands of civilians have died in the process. In 2021, the two generals joined forces to stage a coup against the president who was in office. After the coup, the army general was termed as the de facto leader and the RSF leader left out of it. In recent months, the two have been involved in a power struggle that has led to the two fighting each other.
General Burhan has been travelling across the world seeking international support to end the war in Sudan. He further alluded to the RSF having ties with Wagner, a Russian Mercenary group operating across Africa.
“The danger of this war is now a threat to regional and international peace and security as those rebels have sought the support of outlaws and terrorist groups from different countries in the region and the world,” he said.
Within the UN envoy sent to Sudan, Volker Perthes, was critical to both generals who according to him, had chosen to take Sudan to war. He blamed the RSF for sexual violence, lootings, and killings in the areas it controls. He equally blamed the Sudanese armed forces for aerial bombings in the area.
The RSF being located in densely populated areas, should have influenced some deterrence to the use of aerial bombings by the armed forces. They however saw these areas as legitimate targets without considering the civilians in those areas.
The US has already placed sanctions on the RSF leaders like Dagalo, but the West has also been very critical to General Burhan. This is due to his role in the displacement of Sudan’s leading party in the 2021 coup.
There is no clear information as to which group fired at the other first, but international communities are critical to both parties. According to them, both leaders were wrong to first stage a coup, and second to open war in a country with civilians suffering as collateral damage.