Sudan’s paramilitary head Hemedti holds talks with civilian leaders
The leadership of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF, one of Sudan’s warring parties accused of brutality, on Sunday held talks with civilian political movements in a search for peace.
RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Daglo ‘Hemedti’ on New Year’s Eve met with leaders of the Civilian Democratic Forces Committee (Taqaddum in the Ethiopian capital in a signal of closing ranks between two sides that had been at loggerheads over the country’s transition plan.
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Hemedti’s meeting with the civilian leaders led by former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok continues his recent shuttle diplomacy with trips outside of the country since the war began.
Hamdok is the leader of the Civil Front for Democracy, one of the movements in the Committee group that had been pushing for immediate civilian-led governance.
He was Prime Minister of the Transitional Government until October 2021 when he and his administration were deposed, incidentally by Hemedti and his then-ally Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of the Sudan Armed Forces.
The meeting may signal the manoeuvres Hemedti is making to reach out to groups that were opposed to both the RSF and the Sudan Armed Forces being in power.
His RSF, just like the Sudan Armed Forces, has been accused by rights lobbies of committing atrocities against civilians. In December, the US State Department said it had found evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes including ethnic cleansing and rape in the nine-month war.
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On Wednesday, Hemedti is expected to hold the first one-on-one meeting with Sudan Armed Forces leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan who still considers himself the legitimate leader of Sudan, despite seizing power in a coup in 2021.
The Civilian group had said on Sunday that its delegation would meet with Hemedti in Ethiopia but indicated it sought the audience of both Burhan and Hemedti to end the violence.
A statement published on Facebook by the Forces of Freedom and Change, one of the movements in the civilian group, said the civilian movements had written letters to both for urgent meetings “to discuss issues of protecting civilians, delivering humanitarian aid, and ways to stop the war through the peaceful negotiating path.”
The Committee also confirmed that it was in touch with Burhan’s handlers for an imminent meeting but neither stated the venue nor the timing.
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Hamdok had revealed last week that he had requested an urgent meeting to consult on ways to stop the war since the two parties had previously expressed their agreement to negotiate and hold consultations to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict.
The Committee has presented a four-pronged suggestion to solve the country’s rampant crisis. It begins with a ceasefire, opening safe paths for the population, addressing the humanitarian crisis, and entering into a political process that includes security and military reform, transitional justice issues, and the institutional rebuilding of state agencies.
The Coordination Committee announced its support for the Jeddah Negotiating Platform, fronted by the US and Saudi Arabia and backed by the African Union initiative which includes six focal areas.
This includes; a permanent ceasefire and turning Khartoum into a demilitarised cantonment of forces on both sides of the fighting to a distance of at least 50 kilometers from Khartoum, deploying African forces to guard strategic institutions in the capital and addressing the poor humanitarian conditions resulting from the war.
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It also includes involving police and security forces in the process of securing public facilities and starting a political process to resolve the crisis once and for all.
It is noteworthy that the violent fighting between the army and the Rapid Support broke out after weeks of tension, due to disagreements over plans to integrate the Rapid Support into the ranks of the army, at a time when the military and civilian parties were putting the final touches on an internationally supported political process.
The US and the European Union countries welcomed the current efforts made by the coalition.
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on X that his country welcomes the efforts of Sudanese civilian stakeholders to join together to begin a comprehensive process to restore the civil transition.
“Taqaddum” coordination was established last October and is considered the broadest alliance since the formation of the 2018 Revolution Alliance.
Mediators have argued that long-term peace in Sudan can only be reached if warring sides as well as all political movements sit at the table.