Sudan's army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan delivered a scathing judgment of the Rapid Support Forces on Monday, claiming that the rival paramilitary led by his one-time ally has committed “every possible crime” since the two sides began fighting each other in April.
In a recorded address published by the military on social media, Gen Al Burhan renewed the army's commitment to stand by “the choices of our glorious people and their legitimate right to a state where the law, democracy and institutions prevail.”
Gen Al Burhan has made several public appearances since the war began, usually seen cheerfully greeting soldiers, donning a camouflage shirt and matching jungle hat, with a rifle slung over his shoulder. In Monday's address, the veteran general wore a formal military uniform and was seated on a leather chair.
The RSF claims that Gen Al Burhan has been besieged by its fighters in a basement inside the armed forces' headquarters in central Khartoum since the start of the war. The RSF occupies a section of the sprawling facility as well as the nearby Khartoum airport.
The war between the army and the RSF has been centred in the Sudanese capital, where the two sides have fought each other to a standstill, with neither side able to secure a decisive victory or make tangible progress. The war is essentially a fight for political and military supremacy between Gen Al Burhan and his former deputy, Gen Mohamed Dagalo, the RSF commander.
The war has devastated the capital's infrastructure and created a massive humanitarian crisis, forcing more than four million people to flee their homes, including nearly one million who have crossed the border into neighbouring nations.
The UN says more than 20 million people are facing a high level of food insecurity as a result of the war, which has trapped millions in the capital suffering a scarcity of food, water and power.
The army's reliance on heavy artillery and air strikes has compounded the suffering of civilians in the capital, inadvertently killing hundreds as the army seeks to dislodge RSF fighters deployed deep in residential areas.
But in his address on Monday Gen Al Burhan tried to take the high moral ground when he declared the military's commitment to democratic and civilian rule, while demonising the RSF for its own claim that it is fighting for the benefit of the people of the vast Afro-Arab nation.
Gen Al Burhan and Gen Dagalo jointly led a 2021 coup that derailed Sudan's democratic transition and plunged the country into an intractable political and economic crisis that has indirectly led to the continuing war. The two generals also oversaw security forces' deadly response to a wave of street protests that followed their coup, which left scores of protesters dead and thousands injured.
“Sudan is facing the biggest conspiracy in its modern history, one that targets its very existence, identity, heritage and the fate of its people,” said Gen Al Burhan, whose address marked Sudan's “Army Day.”
The RSF, he said, has since the war began on April 15 looted private properties, sexually assaulted women and tortured civilians. “It has committed every possible crime imaginable,” he said.