Al Burhan makes first public appearance outside Khartoum since war began

Sudan's army chief visits troops in Atbara, north of Khartoum, amid reports of impending foreign trip

Army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan with civilians in Omdurman on Thursday.  AFP
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Videos posted by the Sudanese military late on Thursday night show army chief Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan outside Khartoum for the first time since the war against a rival general and his paramilitary forces began in April.

Gen Al Burhan was widely believed to be trapped and under siege in a section of the armed forces' headquarters controlled by loyal troops. The rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are believed to be in control of the rest of the sprawling complex in central Khartoum.

In a series of videos released on Thursday, Gen Al Burhan was seen mingling with civilians in Omdurman which, together with the cities of Khartoum and Bahri, comprise the greater area of the Sudanese capital. Subsequent videos posted online showed the army chief arriving in Atbara, a city more than 200km north of the capital, in an army helicopter. There were videos of him greeting troops in Atbara.

Unconfirmed media reports said Gen Al Burhan later arrived in Port Sudan, the army-controlled city on the Red Sea, and that he planned to visit Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

There was no immediate word from Riyadh or Cairo that Gen Al Burhan was visiting.

Egypt has supported Gen Al Burhan since he rose to prominence after the dictator Omar Al Bashir was ousted in 2019. The two countries' militaries are bound by several co-operation deals and have taken part in joint war games.

The fighting between Gen Al Burhan's army and the RSF, led by his one-time deputy and ally Gen Mohamed Dagalo, has created a serious humanitarian crisis.

Saudi Arabia, working with the United States, has repeatedly mediated truces between the warring sides, but they have all been either ignored or not diligently observed.

The UN says the fighting forced more than 4.6 million people to flee their homes, including more than a million who found refuge in neighbouring countries. The millions trapped by the fighting in Khartoum, the main theatre of operations, struggle to cope with long power and water shortages, scarce health services and skyrocketing food prices.

Updated: August 25, 2023, 8:02 AM