Sudan paramilitary chief Dagalo demands end to army bombing before talks

Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo says his forces are being bombed 'relentlessly' despite ceasefire agreement

Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of Sudan's Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group, says he is open to peace talks with the army. AP Photo
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The commander of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group has demanded that the army stop its bombing campaign before the rival sides can hold talks to end fighting that has thrown the country into crisis.

More than 500 people have been killed and tens of thousands have fled Sudan since clashes between Gen Mohamed Hamdan’s Dagalo’s paramilitary forces and the Sudanese military led by Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan broke out on April 15. Ceasefires brokered by international mediators have been largely ignored.

Gen Dagalo said his forces continued to be bombed “relentlessly” by the army despite both sides agreeing to a further 72-hour ceasefire on Thursday.

Speaking to the BBC by phone, he said he was open to peace talks but only if the ceasefire was observed.

"Cease hostilities. After that we can have negotiations," the BBC quoted him as saying.

"We don't want to destroy Sudan."

The fighting broke out after weeks of tensions between Gen Dagalo and Gen Al Burhan over plans to integrate the RSF into the military as part of an agreement to return Sudan to civilian rule.

The two generals jointly staged a coup against the previous civilian-led government in 2021. That government was installed after the army and RSF together toppled the dictator Omar Al Bashir in 2019 following a popular uprising against his 29-year rule.

Gen Dagalo told the BBC he had no personal problem with Gen Burhan, but regarded him as a traitor for bringing into government people loyal to Al Bashir, whose regime imposed a strict Islamist ideology on the country.

"Unfortunately Burhan is being led by the radical Islamic front leaders," he said.

He said the RSF were not enemies of the military but were fighting to protect the country from "the relics of the government of the past 30 years".

"We won't fight you. Please go back to your army divisions and we won't fight you," he said.

The paramilitary commander said he was committed to the return of civilian rule under the agreement reached with Sudanese pro-democracy groups last year.

"I am looking forward to having the civilian government today - before tomorrow, a fully civilian government. This is my principle," he said.

Updated: April 29, 2023, 6:25 AM