Fighting raged in Khartoum on Saturday as the army and paramilitaries fighting for power in Sudan are due to discuss a new truce in Saudi Arabia.
As every day since April 15, the inhabitants of the capital live to the rhythm of the bombardments, without water or electricity and with very few reserves of food and money.
While Americans and Saudis assure that soldiers and paramilitaries intend to discuss a truce, the two camps mutually accused each other on Saturday of having attacked the Turkish ambassador’s convoy in Khartoum without specifying whether the attack had caused casualties.
Witnesses report to AFP that the army of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane carries out air raids in various districts of Khartoum, including that of Riyadh – which takes its name from the Saudi capital – a few hours before the start in Jeddah, another Saudi city, of negotiations between its representatives and those of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of rival general Mohamed Hamdane Daglo.
“The army delegation will only talk about the truce and how to properly implement it to facilitate humanitarian access to people,” army spokesman General Nabil Abdallah told AFP. For days now, a truce has continued to be extended only to be violated within minutes of its entry into force.
The United States and Saudi Arabia, which now seem to be maneuvering diplomatically, have spoken of “pre-negotiation discussions”, urging the belligerents to “get involved” for a ceasefire. But the two countries have still not announced whether these talks have started.
Before waging this merciless war, Generals Burhane and Daglo led a putsch together in 2021 which ousted civilians from power and ended the democratic transition, brought about after the fall of dictator Omar el-Bashir in 2019.
Former civilian minister Khaled Omar Youssef, sacked during the putsch, said he hoped “a global political solution” but the two camps have been repeating for days that no political component is planned immediately.
From the start of the war, the two generals were violently insulted by the media and ensured that both no longer wanted to speak to each other directly.
According to Sudanese officials, the FSR will be represented by relatives of General Daglo and his powerful brother Abderrahim, who passes for the financier of the FSR via his gold mines.
On the army side, senior officers known for their hostility to the FSR will be presented, according to these same sources.
The Saudis are great allies and backers of both sides in Sudan. And the United States has allowed Sudan to return to the concert of nations by lifting two decades of sanctions in 2020.
These two countries seem to want to take precedence over regional initiatives. Igad, the East African bloc, is also trying to bring the generals back to the negotiating table through South Sudan, a historic mediator in Sudan.
The African Union lost its leverage when it suspended Sudan after the 2021 putsch, experts say.
As for the Arab League, it must appoint on Sunday the foreign ministers of its member countries, spread over Sudan.
On the ground, the fighting, which is entering its fourth week, has claimed some 700 lives, according to the NGO ACLED, which lists the victims of conflicts. They also left 5,000 injured, 335,000 displaced and 115,000 refugees, according to the UN.
On Friday, they also killed 12 civilians in el-Obeid, 300 km south of the capital, according to the doctors’ union.
specter of hunger
Beyond the direct victims, this conflict is increasing hunger, a scourge that already affected a third of the 45 million Sudanese. According to the UN, between 2 and 2.5 million additional people could suffer from acute malnutrition within six months if the fighting continues.
For the experts, the war will be long as long as the two belligerents seem to have the same combat capacities and to be reluctant to engage in political negotiations before having won on the ground.
The Sudanese, for their part, still live barricaded for fear of stray bullets in the crushing heat and now largely deprived of telephones: the operator MTN has announced the cessation of its services because it can no longer supply its generators with fuel.
In Darfur (west), in the western border of Chad, civilians were armed to participate in clashes mixing soldiers, paramilitaries and tribal or rebel fighters, according to the UN.
Nearly 200 people were killed there, according to the NGO Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
In Port-Sudan, on the coast spared by the violence, the UN and more and more NGOs are trying to negotiate the delivery of aid shipments to Khartoum and Darfur where hospitals and humanitarian stocks have been looted and bombed .