Air raids in Sudan capital ahead of first direct talks

Smoke rises during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum, Sudan. Reuters

Air strikes battered Sudan’s capital on Saturday, as fighting entered a fourth week only hours before the warring parties are to meet in Saudi Arabia for their first direct talks.

Hundreds of people have been killed since the outbreak of the conflict on April 15 between Sudan’s de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads the regular army, and his deputy turned rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The fighting has seen warplanes bomb targets in Khartoum and the rival generals’ forces engage in intense street battles in the city of five million inhabitants. Multiple truces have been reached, but none has been respected.

In a joint statement, the United States and Saudi Arabia said the army and RSF would hold direct discussions in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Saturday, describing them as “pre-negotiation talks”.

“Saudi Arabia and the United States urge both parties to take in consideration the interests of the Sudanese nation and its people and actively engage in the talks toward a ceasefire and end to the conflict,” they said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan confirmed “the presence of representatives” from both sides, but there was no immediate indication that the talks had begun.

Sudanese army spokesman Brigadier General Nabil Abdalla told the media the talks were “only over the truce and how it can be correctly implemented to serve the humanitarian side for civilians”.

Daglo, commonly known as Hemeti, took to Twitter to welcome the talks and thank the US, Saudi Arabia and other international players for their efforts.

The general, whose RSF descended from the Janjaweed militia accused of war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region, affirmed “the need to reach a civilian transitional government that… achieves the aspirations of our people”.

Both the army and the RSF have sought to present themselves as protectors of democratic values, despite staging a coup in 2021 that derailed the country’s transition to civilian rule.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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