Sudan's military ruler says the country may break up if the army's conflict with a rival paramilitary is not resolved soon.
Addressing the police in Port Sudan on Thursday, a Red Sea city controlled by the army, Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan repeated charges that the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces were committing war crimes in Khartoum, the main theatre of operations in the four-month-old war, and in the restive region of Darfur.
He said RSF fighters were bamboozled into believing the war against the army was a fight against remnants of the regime of ousted Omar Al Bashir.
“They are deceived. they are conned,” he said.
The war, which has created a massive humanitarian crisis, is essentially a struggle for political and military supremacy between Gen Al Burhan and his one-time deputy and ally, RSF commander Gen Mohamed Dagalo, better known by his nickname Hemedti.
The two generals jointly seized power in a 2021 coup, toppling a civilian-led government that had taken the reins of power after Al Bashir's ousting in 2019. The coup derailed the nation's democratic transition and plunged the vast Afro-Arab nation of nearly 50 million people into a political and security crisis.
Both generals, however, insist they are fighting to restore democratic rule and have no wish to cling to power.
While the RSF has killed thousands of civilians in Darfur since the war began, engaging in large-scale looting and abuse of civilians in Khartoum, the army is accused of killing hundreds of civilians through its use of heavy artillery and air strikes in the Sudanese capital.
“We are facing a war that perhaps if we don't end quickly enough will fragment Sudan and deal it a fatal blow, This is a war based on lies and will end soon,” Gen Al Burhan said on Thursday, without elaborating. Neither side has gained an advantage in the war.
A series of ceasefires mediated by Saudi Arabia and the US failed to halt the fighting, with both sides determined to fight until victory.
Gen Al Burhan, who left Khartoum a week ago for the first time since war began, urged the police to document and gather evidence of crimes committed by the RSF during the war, so perpetrators can be brought to justice once the fighting is over.
“Escaping punishment can be an incentive for others,” he said.
The war has since its start in mid-April forced nearly five million people to flee their homes. More than one million of them have found refuge in neighbouring nations.
Millions more are trapped in Khartoum, struggling to cope with water and power cuts, scarce health care and skyrocketing food and fuel prices.