Saudi Arabia and US call for Sudan ceasefire to be extended

One-week humanitarian truce set to expire on Monday night

Smoke rises above buildings in Sudan's capital Khartoum on Saturday, five days into a one-week ceasefire. AFP
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Saudi Arabia and the United States have urged Sudan's warring sides to extend a week-long ceasefire due to expire Monday.

The two countries brokered the humanitarian truce after talks between representatives of the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Jeddah. However, the ceasefire, like others before it, did not stop the fighting in the capital of Khartoum and elsewhere in Sudan.

The call for a truce extension was issued in a joint statement released early on Sunday by the Saudi Foreign Ministry.

“While imperfect, an extension nonetheless will facilitate the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the Sudanese people,” it said.

Fighting broke out in mid-April between the military and the powerful RSF. Together, military chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan and RSF leader Gen Mohamed Dagalo led the 2021 coup that removed the western-backed government of prime minister Abdalla Hamdok.

The fighting turned Khartoum and the adjacent city of Omdurman into a battleground. The clashes spread elsewhere in the country, including the Darfur region.

The conflict has killed hundreds of people, wounded thousands and pushed the country to near collapse. More than 1.3 million people have been forced to leave their homes for safer areas inside Sudan or in neighbouring countries.

Residents reported renewed sporadic clashes Sunday in parts of Omdurman, where the army’s aircraft were seen flying over the city. Fighting was also reported in Al Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur.

The US-Saudi statement came two days after Gen Al Burhan demanded in a letter to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that the UN envoy to Sudan be removed. The UN chief was “shocked” by the letter, a spokesman said.

The envoy, Volker Perthes, has been a prominent mediator in Sudan, first during the country’s fitful attempts to transition to democracy and then during efforts to end the current fighting.

Gen Al Burhan’s letter came after Mr Perthes accused the warring parties of disregarding the laws of war by attacking homes, shops, places of worship and water and electricity installations.

In his briefing to the UN Security Council last week, Mr Perthes blamed the leaders of the military and the RSF for the war, saying they have chosen to “settle their unresolved conflict on the battlefield rather than at the table”.

Updated: May 28, 2023, 9:54 AM