Sudanese army says paramilitary mobilisation risks causing confrontation

The Sudanese army said on Thursday that the mobilisation in the capital Khartoum and other cities of a para-military force headed by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo had raised the risk of confrontation.

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) moves represented a “clear violation of law,” the army said in a rare comment on an ongoing dispute that has hampered a planned transition to democracy.

“These movements and deployments happened without the agreement of the leadership of the armed forces or even coordination with it,” the army spokesman said.

“Their continuation will lead to more tension and divisions that could lead to insecurity in the country.”

The RSF is a powerful paramilitary force that emerged from militias involved in the conflict in Darfur which broke out 20 years ago and has been accused of widespread human rights abuses.

It joined with the military to overthrow long-ruling strongman Omar Hassan al-Bashir in a coup in 2019. The two forces then carried out another coup in October 2021.

Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, is now deputy leader of Sudan’s ruling military council. But he has recently pulled away from the military and found common ground with a civilian political alliance.

Relations between the military and the RSF have worsened, forcing a delay in the signing of an internationally-backed agreement with political parties for a two-year civilian-led transition to elections.

Central to Dagalo’s disagreement with the military is his reluctance to set a clear deadline to integrate the RSF into the army, two military sources said.

Dagalo has said repeatedly in speeches that he did not want a confrontation with the army, a move that would spell prolonged insecurity across a country already dealing with economic breakdown and flare-ups of tribal violence.

The RSF, which operates under a special law and has its own chain of command, said in an earlier statement that it deploys across the country as part of its normal duties.

Concerned about Dagalo’s intentions, the army under ruling council leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has stationed more soldiers in Khartoum on a state of alert, the military sources said.

Dagalo commands tens of thousands of fighters in the RSF and has amassed considerable mineral wealth.

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