Sudan in turmoil: Army and RSF clash, leaving dozens dead
April 18, 2023

Sudan has been plunged into violence once again as the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have clashed over control of key sites, resulting in the deaths of at least 56 civilians, according to the Sudanese Doctors’ Committee.

The fighting, which began on Friday, has also left dozens of military personnel dead and over 595 injured.

The RSF, commanded by Sudan’s deputy leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, has been battling army units loyal to the de facto leader, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. The violence has escalated over the weekend, with both sides claiming control of key locations.

On Saturday, the RSF claimed control of at least three airports, the army chief’s residence, and the presidential palace. However, Gen Burhan denied these claims in an interview with Al-Jazeera.

Eyewitnesses reported that there was gunfire in the northern city of Merowe, and the RSF released a video showing Egyptian troops who had “surrendered” to them in the city. The Egyptian military said its soldiers were in Sudan to conduct exercises with their Sudanese counterparts and were coordinating with Sudanese authorities to guarantee the safety of its personnel.

Numerous airlines have suspended flights to Khartoum, and neighboring Chad has closed its border with Sudan. Residents in the capital were caught off guard by the clashes and have been left in panic and fear, with many schools in lockdown and bridges and roads closed. The situation is compounded by the lack of electricity in the city, making it hot and difficult to stay indoors.

The international community has called for an immediate end to the fighting, with the UK, U.S., EU, China, and Russia all issuing statements to that effect. The UN’s Secretary-General has also spoken to Gen Burhan and Gen Dagalo, urging them to end the violence.

U.S. Ambassador John Godfrey reported sheltering in place with the embassy team, as Sudanese throughout Khartoum and elsewhere are doing.

Sudan has been in political turmoil since the 2021 coup that ended a period of over two years when military and civilian leaders were sharing power. The deal came after Sudan’s long-term authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir was overthrown.

However, there have been regular pro-democracy protests in Khartoum since the coup, with a proposed move to a civilian-led government foundering on the timetable to integrate the RSF into the army. The RSF had wanted to delay the integration for 10 years, but the army said it should happen in two years.

The violence in Sudan has once again highlighted the fragility of the country’s political situation and the challenges in achieving a peaceful and democratic transition. The situation remains fluid, and it is uncertain how it will develop in the coming days and weeks.

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