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Sudan's Burhan sacks rival general as war drags on

By AFP - May 21,2023 - Last updated at May 21,2023

Smoke rises above buildings in southern Khartoum, as violence between two rival Sudanese generals continues, on May 17 (AFP photo)

KHARTOUM — Sudan's de facto leader Abdel Fattah Al Burhan sacked his deputy-turned-rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo on Friday, as forces loyal to the feuding generals pressed on with fighting in both Khartoum and Darfur.

The United Nations, meanwhile, warned that humanitarian needs are increasing in Sudan, with aid chief Martin Griffith allocating $22 million in emergency funds to help Sudanese fleeing the violence.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says more than 1 million people have been displaced by the power struggle between Burhan and Daglo, who leads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Hundreds have been killed in the fighting, which has now raged for more than a month.

On Friday, witnesses reported exchanges of fire both in the capital Khartoum and in the troubled Darfur region, where armed civilians have also entered the fray, stoking ethnic and tribal rivalries.

In Central Darfur, RSF fighters are trying to push Burhan’s military from its headquarters in the capital Zalingei, residents said.

In South Darfur capital Nyala, fighting killed 18 people on Thursday, Sudan’s doctors syndicate said. Witnesses told AFP clashes were ongoing on Friday.

 

Ceasefire efforts 

 

The persistent violence has defied regional and international calls for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Sudan has been gripped by economic and political turmoil since veteran leader Omar Al Bashir was ousted by the military in 2019.

Two years later, a coup by Burhan and Daglo derailed a fragile transition to civilian rule and forces loyal to the two men have been fighting relentlessly since April 15.

Representatives of the warring generals have been in Saudi Arabia, which hosted an Arab summit on Friday and has been trying to hammer out a humanitarian ceasefire.

Asked about those talks, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the focus was “on reaching a truce that allows Sudanese civilians to take a breather”.

Neighbouring South Sudan on Friday defended its own efforts to broker an end to the conflict after the Sudanese foreign ministry protested its hosting of a delegation from Daglo earlier this week.

South Sudan’s government “has continued to play its part within [East African bloc] IGAD with absolute impartiality”, the foreign ministry in Juba said in a statement.

Daglo’s envoy Yusif Isha held talks with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and IGAD officials in Juba on Wednesday.

With neither side appearing to have the upper hand, on Friday Burhan sacked Daglo and appointed three allies to top jobs in the military.

“General Burhan has issued a constitutional decree assigning Malik Agar to the post of vice-president of the ruling transitional Sovereignty Council, effective today,” the council said on its Facebook page.

The military also reported that Burhan named Gen. Shamsedding Kabashi to be his deputy, and chose two other loyal officers to be his assistants.

 

Emergency aid 

 

Agar, a former rebel leader and governor of Blue Nile state on the South Sudan border, signed a peace deal with Khartoum in 2020 and was appointed to the Sovereignty Council in February 2021.

He leads one wing of the SPLM-North, formed in 2011 by northern fighters of the movement which led South Sudan to independence that year.

Observers consider Agar’s promotion as a symbolic move which is not expected to impact the power struggle between Burhan and Daglo.

The United Nations has voiced fears the crisis in Khartoum could spread to neighbouring countries now flooded with Sudanese fleeing the violence. It renewed its appeals for the safety of civilians caught in the crossfire to be respected.

“Over a month since the fighting started, UNHCR... is making an urgent appeal for the safety of civilians and to allow humanitarian aid to move freely in Sudan,” Matthew Saltmarsh, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, said on Friday.

He said more than one million people have been displaced within Sudan or as refugees in neighbouring countries.

“Inside Sudan, people are braving danger, moving notably from Khartoum, Darfur and other unsafe areas,” Saltmarsh said.

UN aid chief Griffiths said on Twitter he was “allocating $22 million... to support relief efforts in Chad, the Central African Republic, Egypt and South Sudan”, where Sudanese have sought refuge.

The United States on Friday promised $103 million for Sudan and neighbouring countries to support displaced people.

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