Sunday June 04, 2023

Khartoum shaken by air strikes as Sudan rivals agree brief ceasefire

Ceasefire was announced two weeks after the initial meeting, but violations fall short of full agreement

By Web Desk
May 21, 2023
Smoke billows in the distance in Khartoum amid ongoing fighting between the forces of two rival generals, on May 15, 2023. — AFP/file
Smoke billows in the distance in Khartoum amid ongoing fighting between the forces of two rival generals, on May 15, 2023. — AFP/file 

Air strikes and artillery exchanges shook Khartoum on Saturday as Sudan's warring generals battled for control. Despite the violence, the rival factions agreed to a seven-day ceasefire starting from May 22. The United States and Saudi Arabia announced the ceasefire after talks in Jeddah.

Previous truces have been violated since fighting broke out five weeks ago. The Jeddah Agreement, unlike previous ceasefires, was signed by both parties and will be supported by a US-Saudi and international ceasefire monitoring mechanism. Talks will focus on improving security and humanitarian conditions, including evacuating forces from urban areas and allowing free movement of civilians.

The conflict between regular army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo erupted on April 15, killing hundreds of people and displacing over a million. The United Nations warned of a deteriorating humanitarian situation in Sudan, where one in three people relied on aid before the war.

The ceasefire announcement comes two weeks after the warring generals' initial gathering in Jeddah, where they committed to respecting humanitarian principles and allowing aid. However, UN aid chief Martin Griffiths highlighted "important and egregious" violations of the agreement.

To push for talks and stability, al-Burhan dismissed Daglo, appointing former rebel leader Malik Agar as vice president of the Sovereign Council. Agar aims to end the war and restore stability with a professional and unified army. Integration of the RSF into the regular armed forces has been a major contention, given its ill-disciplined reputation.

The Qatari embassy in Khartoum was attacked, prompting condemnation. Qatar called for an immediate end to the fighting, while the pro-Burhan authorities blamed the paramilitaries. The violence has also spread to Darfur, where 22 people were killed in South Darfur's capital, Nyala.

The UN aid chief allocated $22 million in emergency funds to help Sudanese fleeing the violence. The US pledged $103 million to support displaced individuals in Sudan and neighbouring countries.