Sudan’s top General Burhan vows civilian rule as death toll mounts 400 in Ramadan month

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Sudan’s top general Burhan says military committed to
Image Source : AP Sudan’s top general Burhan says military committed to civilian rule

Sudan conflict updates: Sudan’s top general on Friday declared the military’s commitment to a civilian-led government, an apparent bid for international support even as his forces battle a rival paramilitary group in a bloody power struggle that has derailed hopes for the country’s democratic transition.

In his first speech since the conflict engulfed Sudan nearly a week ago, army chief General Abdel Fattah Burhan pledged the military would prevail and secure the vast African nation’s “safe transition to civilian rule”. But for many Sudanese, Burhan’s claims rang hollow 18 months after he joined forces with his current rival to seize power in a coup that cast aside Sudan’s pro-democracy forces.

Burhan’s announcement came on the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Ramadan and its month of fasting. Both sides later issued statements saying they had agreed on a three-day truce to allow people to celebrate, but residents could still hear gunfire in parts of the capital, Khartoum, an hour after the truce was to take effect. Two cease-fire attempts earlier this week rapidly collapsed.

US urges Sudan to restore peace 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has spoken to both generals, welcomed the latest truce while acknowledging that “fighting is continuing and there is serious mistrust between the two forces.”

“I reiterate my call on both sides to pause the fighting to allow civilians to take care of themselves and their families, to permit full and unimpeded humanitarian access, and to enable all civilians, including diplomatic personnel, to reach safety,” he said in a statement.

The Eid al-Fitr holiday — typically filled with prayer, celebration and feasting — was a sombre one in Sudan, as gunshots rang out across the capital of Khartoum and heavy smoke billowed over the skyline. Rather than out in the open, mosques held mass morning prayers inside to protect worshippers from the intensified fighting.

Over 400 killed and more than 3,500 injured

The violence so far has killed 413 people and wounded 3,551, according to the latest toll from the World Health Organization. That includes at least nine children killed and 50 wounded in the fighting, said the UN Children’s Fund.

“There is no safe place anymore in Khartoum,” said Dallia Abdelmoniem, a 37-year-old baker who fled the Sudanese capital with her family on Thursday, after a rocket sliced through her roof. The road to the city’s outskirts was littered with dead bodies. Abdelmoniem covered the eyes of her nieces and nephews.

“Our number one priority is just to stay alive,” she said from her new shelter outside the city, where she could still hear the howl of artillery and gunfire on Friday. “Instead of waking up to the call to prayer, people in Khartoum again woke up to heavy fighting,” Norway’s ambassador to Sudan, Endre Stiansen wrote in an Eid al-Fitr message on Twitter.

“Can any hell be more horrible than this?”

Sudanese military wants RSF to surrender

The Sudanese military a day earlier ruled out negotiations with the RSF, saying it would only accept its surrender, and on Friday it claimed to be clearing RSF positions from around Khartoum. The military appeared to have the upper hand in the fighting, with its monopoly on air power, but it was impossible to confirm its claims of advances.

The two generals vying for control over the vast African nation — Burhan and his rival, RSF chief Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo — have sought to portray themselves as supporters of democracy. In 2019, they turned against long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir and pushed him out of power amid a popular uprising against his rule.

But since then, they have failed to implement agreements under which they would hand over power. Their forces crushed pro-democracy protests, and in 2021 they jointly carried out a coup that removed a transitional government and entrenched them as Sudan’s most powerful leaders.

Both forces have a long history of human rights abuses

The RSF was born out of the Janjaweed militias, which were accused of atrocities in crushing a rebellion in Sudan’s western Darfur region in the early 2000s.

The current explosion of violence between them came after Burhan and Dagalo fell out over a recent internationally brokered deal with democracy activists that was meant to incorporate the RSF into the military and eventually lead to civilian rule. The fighting continued to frustrate efforts by nations to evacuate their nationals from Sudan.

(With inputs from AP)

Also Read: Amid Sudan clash, govt sets up dedicated control room in Delhi to oversee safety of stranded Indians

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