Deputy commander of Sudan's paramilitary force calls on military to step down

Gen Abdul Rahim Dagalo's call lays bare rift between the RSF and the country's military leader

Members of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are seen near the area where gunmen opened fire outside buildings used by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in Khartoum, Sudan January 14, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
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The deputy commander of Sudan's most powerful paramilitary force, Gen Abdul Rahim Dagalo, called on the military on Saturday to step down from power.

Gen Dagalo's Rapid Support Forces participated in the military coup in October 2021 that removed a civilian-led government and derailed Sudan's democratic transition following the ousting in 2019 of long-ruling dictator Omar Al Bashir.

Gen Dagalo is the brother of RSF commander Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is also the deputy chairman of the ruling and military-led Sovereign Council. The council is led by coup leader and army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan.

Gen Dagalo's call for the military to step down is the latest sign of what is becoming an increasingly public rift between his brother and Gen Al Burhan.

Last week, the RSF commander said the coup was a mistake and that it has been used as a gateway by Al Bashir's loyalists to make a political comeback.

For his part, Gen Al Burhan said he would not sign off on any deal to end Sudan's political crisis that does not clearly provide for the integration of the RSF into the armed forces.

Gen Dagalo and his brother Abdul Rahim, who enjoy the support of several regional powers, are known to be reluctant to loose the RSF's independence.

"We have a message to our brothers in power: hand over power to the people," Gen Abdul Rahim Dagalo said on Saturday. He did not name Gen Al Burhan or mention the military.

"Hand over power without wasting more time," he said. He did not give a timeline or say what he and his brother would do if his call goes unheeded.

It was not immediately clear whether Gen Abdul Rahim Dagalo was speaking for himself and his brother, but it's safe to assume that he must have cleared his comments with his brother given the gravity of their implications.

The RSF has its roots in a feared militia called Janjaweed that fought on the government's side during the war in Darfur in the 2000s.

Its combat-seasoned and well-armed men have been deployed throughout the capital Khartoum for the past four years.

Also, the RSF has over the years forayed into profitable economic enterprises and is believed to have amassed considerable wealth.

Also on Saturday, Gen Abdul Rahim Dagalo vowed never to allow the killing of any more protesters or the arrest of any politician.

Last week, security forces killed a protester in the greater Khartoum area, taking to 125th the number of protesters killed since the October 2021 coup.

Updated: March 05, 2023, 5:03 AM