Sudan: army suspends negotiations and brings out heavy artillery

The army on Wednesday bombards paramilitaries with heavy artillery in Khartoum after withdrawing from negotiations led by the United States and Saudi Arabia to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to Sudan threatened with famine

Sudan: army suspends negotiations and brings out heavy artillery

The army on Wednesday bombards paramilitaries with heavy artillery in Khartoum after withdrawing from negotiations led by the United States and Saudi Arabia to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to Sudan threatened with famine.

In the north and south of the capital, the bases of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo's Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are under fire from the guns of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane's army, residents report. AFP.

"There is heavy artillery fire from army bases" in the northern suburbs, says one of them, on the 47th day of a war which has already claimed more than 1,800 lives according to the NGO ACLED.

Another reports "army artillery shelling of the RSF HQ in al-Salha, south of Khartoum". This HQ is the largest of the paramilitaries in the capital and contains a good part of their arsenal.

Shortly before, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the emissaries of General Burhane had "suspended the negotiations" in progress for almost a month for a ceasefire supposed to open passages to civilians and humanitarian aid.

The army took this decision "because the rebels never implemented one of the points of the temporary truce agreement which provides for their withdrawal from hospitals and homes", a Sudanese government official told AFP.

Since the start of the war, the doctors' union has denounced the occupation of several hospitals by belligerents.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health announced the closure of nine hospitals in al-Jazeera, the state which borders Khartoum to the south and hosts tens of thousands of displaced families, "because of the presence of the RSF around which threatens the caregivers and the supply of establishments".

Three-quarters of hospitals in combat zones are out of order, according to the union. The others have to deal with almost empty reserves and generators stopped for lack of fuel.

In Khartoum, many residents say they were driven from their homes by members of the FSR. Or having learned from their neighbours, after having fled, that paramilitaries had settled there to live there or to make it a combat post.

Already before the war, one out of three Sudanese suffered from hunger, long power cuts were a daily occurrence and the health system was on the verge of collapse.

Still no corridor has been cleared to allow the passage of humanitarian aid, which 25 of the 45 million Sudanese now need according to the UN. The few cargoes that have been able to be transported do not cover the immense needs.

The situation is becoming more critical every day: the country is on the verge of famine according to the UN and the rainy season is approaching with its cohort of epidemics.

In total, more than 1.5 million people, mainly Sudanese but also refugees in Sudan, have been forced to flee.

More than a million are still in the country but 350,000 others have joined neighboring countries. Half arrived in Egypt, in the midst of an economic crisis, the others in Chad, South Sudan, the Central African Republic or Ethiopia.

If the army said to withdraw from the negotiations in Jeddah, nothing allows to say that the discussions will not resume.

"In difficult negotiations, it is a very classic phenomenon that a party suspends, threatens to suspend" its participation, Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt, spokesman for the African Union (AU) on the issue, told AFP. Sudanese crisis.

This should "not discourage (...) the United States and Saudi Arabia, which we support very strongly", he added while for years Saudis and Americans have been multiplying parallel diplomatic channels in Sudan, much to the chagrin of Africans.

The fighting is heaviest in Darfur, a border region of Chad, some areas of which are completely cut off from the world, without electricity or telephones.

There, new calls to arm civilians raise fears of a "total civil war", according to the Forces of Freedom and Change (FLC), the civilian bloc ousted from power during the putsch led in 2021 by the two then allied generals.

Today, the supporters of the Islamic-military dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir, deposed in 2019, are coming back in force, assure the experts, by weighing all their weight behind the army and General Burhane.

05/31/2023 16:25:20 -         Khartoum (AFP) -         © 2023 AFP