Sudan: The rivalry between two generals has exploded, paramilitary forces say they control the presidential palace in Khartoum

The tension had been simmering for weeks

Sudan: The rivalry between two generals has exploded, paramilitary forces say they control the presidential palace in Khartoum

The tension had been simmering for weeks. The rivalry between the two generals behind the putsch in Sudan in October 2021 exploded on Saturday April 15 in Khartoum, which woke up to the sound of explosions and fighting. General Mohammed Hamdan Daglo's Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group of former Darfur militiamen, say they control the presidential palace of army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, who has de facto ruled Sudan since putsch.

In its third "communiqué to the people" since the morning, the RSF claims to hold "the presidential palace", "Khartoum airport", as well as several other "bases in different provinces". In the morning, the paramilitary forces had called on the population to "join them" and told the soldiers that they were "not targeting them, but their staff, which uses them to stay on its throne, even if it means putting the stability of the country in peril". Opposite, the army assures that the information issued by the FSR are "lies".

During the October 2021 putsch, army chief Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Al-Bourhane and FSR boss Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, known as "Hemetti", appeared together, forming a common front to oust civilians from power. But over time, Hemetti has never ceased to denounce the coup d'etat, to side with civilians - therefore against the army in political negotiations - and it is now his dispute with General Bourhane that prevents any way out of the crisis in Sudan.

On Saturday, the political standoff won the streets: in several districts of Khartoum, almost non-stop shooting and explosions shook the inhabitants of the country, long torn by war and banned from nations for many years. In Khartoum, where no one dares to move, witnesses report a deployment of fighting near the residence of General Bourhane, without any independent source being able to physically go there to testify. The two parties, they, return the responsibility for the outbreak of fire.

"Like all Sudanese, I remain sheltered," tweeted US Ambassador John Godfrey. “The escalation of tensions between the military to direct confrontation is extremely dangerous. I call on senior military commanders to stop fighting immediately,” he wrote.

"A dangerous and historic turning point"

The RSF said they were "surprised in the morning by the arrival of a large contingent of the army who besieged their camp in Soba". For its part, the army retorts that it was the FSR who started: "the army fulfills its duty to protect the homeland", assured the spokesman of the army, General Nabil Abdallah. According to him, the fighting in Khartoum actually broke out when the RSF attacked army bases "in Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan".

On Thursday, the army was already denouncing a "dangerous" deployment of paramilitaries in Khartoum and other cities in Sudan "without the approval or any coordination with the command of the armed forces". She then sounded "the alarm bell" in the face of "a dangerous and historic turning point".

Because for days, while civilians and the international community were forced to accept a new postponement of the signing of a political agreement supposed to get the country out of the impasse - because of the differences between the two generals - videos did not stop to show from different districts, the arrival of very many armored vehicles and men, especially in Khartoum. The future of the paramilitaries is now the main question in Sudan: any return to democratic transition depends on their integration into regular troops.

If the army does not refuse it, it still wants to impose its conditions of admission and limit in time the incorporation of these. General Daglo, for his part, calls for broad inclusion and, above all, his place within the general staff. It is this dispute that still blocks the return to the transition demanded by the international community to resume aid to Sudan, one of the poorest countries in the world.