US and Saudi Arabia broker 'final attempt' at ceasefire in Sudan

The 24-hour truce will provide an opportunity to deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance

Smoke rises over Khartoum on Thursday as fighting continues. AP
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Saudi Arabia and the US on Friday announced a tentative 24-hour truce between the warring parties in Sudan, but the two brokers are warning that any breach could end the Jeddah talks.

The cessation of hostilities will begin on Saturday.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America announce that representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces agreed to a 24-hour countrywide ceasefire beginning on June 10 at 6am Khartoum time,” a joint statement said.

The facilitators share the frustration of the Sudanese people about the uneven implementation of previous ceasefires
US-Saudi statement

The parties agreed to refrain from attacks, the use of aircraft or drones, aerial bombardment, artillery strikes, reinforcement of positions and the resupplying of forces. They will also not seek military advantage during the 24 hours, the two mediators said.

They also agreed to allow the unimpeded movement and delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout the country.

“The facilitators share the frustration of the Sudanese people about the uneven implementation of previous ceasefires,” they said.

The latest initiative has been proposed in an effort to break the cycle of violence, they added.

The army confirmed in a statement that it had agreed to the 24-hour ceasefire while asserting "its right to respond to any violations". The RSF said in a statement it was committed to respecting the truce.

If observed, the ceasefire will provide an important opportunity to deliver humanitarian assistance and for the parties to take confidence-building measures, which could allow resumption of the Jeddah talks.

The mediators warned that if the parties fail to observe the ceasefire, they will be compelled to consider adjourning talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Both sides have broken a string of ceasefire agreements, although a recent truce deal did let in limited amounts of humanitarian aid, agencies said.

Friday's announcement comes a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he held discussions on Sudan with top Saudi officials.

The conflict has reduced the capital Khartoum to an urban battlefield, with many districts of the city without running water or electricity.

There have been reports of widespread looting and sexual violence in Khartoum and the western Darfur region, which have experienced some of the worst fighting in the conflict. Many of the reported cases of sexual assaults were blamed on the RSF, which has not responded to requests for comment.

According to Shabia Mantoo, a spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency, almost two million people have been displaced by the conflict. Of those, about 1.42 million are displaced within Sudan and about 451,000 have left the country, including refugees from South Sudan who have returned home, she said in Geneva on Friday.

Meanwhile, the global humanitarian aid group, Mercy Corps, said the conflict could trigger a catastrophic food crisis and disease outbreaks in the coming months.

June is the beginning of Sudan's three-month rainy season, in which scores of people were killed last year.

The conflict has derailed the launch of a transition towards civilian rule four years after a popular uprising ousted longtime president Omar Al Bashir.

Sudan's army and the RSF are in conflict over the chain of command and the military's restruction plans under the transition.

Updated: June 09, 2023, 4:41 PM