Al Burhan asks Sudan's neighbours to stop sending mercenaries to support rival RSF

Army chief says he has not sought military support and prefers a peaceful solution to five-month civil war

Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan addresses the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday. Bloomberg
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Sudan's army chief said he had called on neighbouring states to stop sending mercenaries to the country in support of a rival paramilitary group.

Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan's army has been fighting against the Rapid Support Forces for control of Sudan since violence broke out between the one-time allies in mid-April.

The conflict began in the capital, Khartoum, but has spread to the volatile western province of Darfur, the area of a decades-long war that dragged in many of Sudan's neighbours.

Gen Al Burhan told Reuters that he asked neighbouring countries to stop mercenaries from entering Sudan.

"We asked our neighbours to help us monitor the borders to stop the flow of mercenaries," he said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Gen Al Burhan repeated his support for a peaceful solution to the conflict and said he believes that talks in Jeddah supported by the US and Saudi Arabia could still succeed despite having stalled.

"Every war ends in peace, whether through negotiations or force. We are proceeding on those two paths, and our preferred path is the path of negotiations," he said.

The RSF, led by Gen Al Burhan's former ally Gen Mohamed Dagalo, also says it favours a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Gen Dagalo addressed UNGA in a video message.

“Today, we renew our commitment to the peaceful process to put a halt to this war,” he said on Thursday.

“The RSF are fully prepared for a ceasefire throughout Sudan to allow the passage of humanitarian aid … and to start serious and comprehensive political talks,” Gen Dagalo said.

Despite both sides saying they favour a peaceful resolution to the conflict, several ceasefires have failed to hold.

Both sides accuse the other of war crimes.

“These rebel groups have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in many corners of Sudan,” Gen Al Burhan told UNGA on Thursday.

“They are guilty of torture and actions that amount to war crimes in Darfur, Khartoum and other places."

Gen Al Burhan flew to New York from Port Sudan, where has been based since fleeing Khartoum, the latest in a series of international trips seen as an attempt to shore up support for his government.

He has visited Uganda, Turkey, Egypt, Eritrea, South Sudan and Qatar in recent months.

The war broke out when the RSF challenged Gen Al Burhan's plans to integrate it into the army, which is the de facto ruler of the country four years after former president Omar Al Bashir was overthrown in a popular uprising.

Fighting has plunged Sudan into a humanitarian crisis, with more than seven million people now internally displaced, the UN has said.

Updated: September 23, 2023, 9:34 AM