In a significant development, the Sudanese army announced on Wednesday the suspension of ceasefire talks with a rival paramilitary force.
The decision raises apprehensions that the ongoing conflict, now in its sixth week, will plunge Africa’s third-largest country into a deeper humanitarian crisis.
The armed forces, in a statement, declared the halt of negotiations in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, citing the opposing side’s lack of commitment in implementing the terms of the agreement and continuous violation of the ceasefire.
The talks, initiated in early May with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), had yielded a declaration to safeguard civilians and two short-term truce agreements.
However, these agreements were persistently violated.
Eyewitnesses reported on Wednesday that the RSF had expanded its presence in Khartoum’s Mogran district, central Sudan.
They also witnessed intense clashes in the northern Omdurman and northern Bahri regions, across the Nile.
Tragically, a market in the densely populated southern Khartoum was hit by projectiles, resulting in the death of at least 15 people and injuring 30 others.
The local neighborhood resistance committee issued a statement, stating that the local Bashair hospital, one of the few still operational in the capital, was overwhelmed by the influx of casualties.
The United Nations reported that the war has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, displacing over 1.2 million internally and forcing an additional 400,000 to seek refuge in neighboring states.
The Sudanese army, relying on air power and artillery, and the RSF, a lightly armed force that has gained dominance in Khartoum, agreed to extend a week-long ceasefire by five days just before its expiration on Monday.
Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, a seasoned military officer, and RSF General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, a former militia commander, have been locked in a power struggle since April 15. Neither side appears to have the upper hand.
“We do not want to use lethal force. We still haven’t used our maximum strength…
We don’t want to destroy the country,” Burhan emphasized in a military video released on Tuesday, addressing the cheering forces at a military base with a gun slung over his back.
However, he added that if the enemy fails to comply, they will be compelled to use their strongest force.
In response, the RSF released a statement late on Tuesday, expressing their commitment to the ceasefire despite the army’s repeated violations.
In a video released on Wednesday by the RSF, Hemedti’s brother and the RSF’s second-in-command, Abdelrahim Dagalo, called on army soldiers to desert and join forces with the RSF, stating that those working for Sudan’s best interests should abandon Burhan.
He assured that his brother was well and on the front lines.
Sudan has a history of political upheaval, coups, and internal conflicts, but violence had previously been limited to regions far from Khartoum, which is home to millions of people.
Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt, the African Union spokesperson on the Sudan crisis, commented on the Sudanese army’s withdrawal from the Jeddah talks, saying, “It is not surprising. It happens often.
We hope the mediator will succeed in bringing both parties together to work towards an expected ceasefire.”
The capital city has been plagued by widespread looting, frequent power and water supply cuts, and the majority of hospitals have ceased operations.
Before the ceasefire agreement was renewed, an army source revealed that the army had demanded the RSF withdraw from civilian residences and hospitals as a condition for the extension. Subsequently,