04 September 2023

Sudan’s top general arrives in South Sudan for talks with president on war

04 September 2023

Sudan’s top military general has arrived in South Sudan for talks with its president on his second trip abroad since the war in his country started in April.

Gen Abdel-Fattah Burhan, chairman of the ruling Sovereign Council, landed at the airport in South Sudan’s capital Juba and was received by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.

Both leaders inspected an honour guard before departing for talks that would focus on the conflict in Sudan, according to the council.

In April, simmering tensions between the military, led by Gen Burhan, and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, exploded into open fighting in the capital and elsewhere.

The fighting has has reduced Khartoum to an urban battlefield, with neither side managing to gain control of the city.

The military command, where Gen Burhan has purportedly been stationed since April, has been one of the epicentres of the conflict.

In the western Darfur region – the scene of genocidal campaign in the early 2000s – the conflict has morphed into ethnic violence, with the RSF and allied Arab militias attacking ethnic African groups, according to rights groups and the United Nations.

The conflict is estimated to have killed at least 4,000 people, according to the UN human rights office, though activists and doctors on the ground say the toll is likely far higher.

More than 4.8 million people have been displaced, according to the UN migration agency. Those include more than 3.8 million who fled to safer areas inside Sudan and more than one million others who crossed into neighbouring countries.

In his trip to Juba, Gen Burhan is accompanied by acting foreign minister Ali al-Sadiq and Gen Ahmed Ibrahim Mufadel, head of the General Intelligence Authority, and other military officers, according to the Sovereign Council.

South Sudan’s minister of cabinet affairs Martin Elia Lomuro said that the South Sudanese President has a solution “to resolve the conflict” in Sudan, according to a statement by the presidency.

“It is known that President Kiir is the only person who has intimacy and knowledge about Sudan and can find a solution to the Sudanese crisis,” Mr Lomuro said.

Mr al-Sadiq, the Sudanese acting foreign minister, meanwhile, was quoted as saying that South Sudan is the best candidate to meditate the ongoing conflict “because we have been one country for so long and we know each other, we know the problems and we know our needs”.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 after a long conflict.

Early in the ongoing war in Sudan, South Sudan’s Mr Kiir attempted to mediate between the warring generals, as part of an initiative by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an eight-member regional block that includes Sudan.

The Sudanese leader met with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt last week in the Egyptian coastal city of el-Alamein.

It was his first trip abroad since the war. Both Egypt and South Sudan are neighbours to Sudan.

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