WAR IN SUDAN: Al-Burhan walks out of Saudi talks with Dagalo

WAR IN SUDAN: Al-Burhan walks out of Saudi talks with Dagalo
Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan cheers on soldiers as he visits some of their positions in Khartoum [Sudanese Army’s Facebook page via AFP]

​Sudan’s National Army has pulled out of the ongoing peace talks in Saudi Arabia.

The army which is under the command of supreme leader Abdel Fattah Al Burhan cited continued ceasefire violations by Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitary wing that is fighting government forces since April 15.

The RSF play allegiance to Mohammed Dagalo, who until recently was al-Burhan’s deputy.

The army also accused RSF of using civilians as human shields. RSF, on the other hand, accused the army of walking out of the talks to take advantage of the existing ceasefire to shell their positions.​​

The latest development now raises fears of possible renewed fighting that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

The talks between the army and a rival paramilitary wing that has been calling for the restoration of civilian-led government began in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah in early May, resulting in two short-term ceasefire deals.

The ceasefire deals, however, have repeatedly been violated by either side.

Diplomatic sources told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that the army was suspending its participation in the talks.

A spokesman for the army, Brigadier Nabil Abdalla, also told the Associated Press news agency the decision was in response to the RSF’s alleged “repeated violations” of the humanitarian ceasefire, including their continued occupation of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure in the capital, Khartoum.

The RSF, meanwhile, accused the army of halting the talks to violate the existing ceasefire to attack their positions.

Until late on Tuesday, intense clashes were reported in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

The truce was brokered and remotely monitored by Saudi Arabia and the United States, which say it has been violated by both sides and has allowed for the delivery of aid. The war that broke out on April 15 has forced nearly 1.4 million people to flee their homes, including more than 350,000 who have crossed into neighbouring countries, South Sudan included.

More than six weeks into the conflict, the United Nations estimated that more than half the population—25 million people—required aid and protection.

Leaders of the army and the RSF had held the top positions on Sudan’s ruling council since former leader Omar al-Bashir was toppled during a popular uprising in 2019.

They staged a coup in 2021, as they were due to hand leadership of the council to civilians, before falling out over the chain of command and restructuring of the RSF under the planned transition.