(Khartoum) Fighting rages Saturday in Khartoum as the army and paramilitaries fighting for power in Sudan are due to discuss a new truce in Saudi Arabia.
As every day since April 15, the inhabitants of the capital live to the rhythm of the bombardments, without water or electricity and with very few reserves of food and money.
Soldiers and paramilitaries accused each other on Saturday of attacking a convoy carrying the Turkish ambassador to Sudan without specifying whether the attack had caused casualties.
Witnesses report to AFP that General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane’s army is carrying out air raids in various districts of Khartoum, including that of Riyadh – which takes its name from the Saudi capital – hours before the start in Jeddah, another Saudi city, of negotiations between its representatives and those of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of rival general Mohamed Hamdane Daglo.
Saudi Arabia confirmed in a statement the arrival on Saturday of “representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the RSF in Jeddah”, without specifying whether discussions between the representatives of the two generals had started.
The United States and Saudi Arabia, which now appear to be diplomatically maneuvering, spoke of “pre-negotiation talks”, urging the warring parties to “actively engage” for a ceasefire.
Before waging this merciless war, Generals Burhane and Daglo led a putsch together in 2021 which ousted civilians from power and ended the democratic transition, which began after the fall of dictator Omar el-Bashir in 2019.
Both sides have been saying for days that their emissaries will only discuss “the details of the truce”, renewed several times, but never respected. No political component is planned in the immediate future.
The army has confirmed that it has sent negotiators to Jeddah, claiming to want to discuss a ceasefire. General Daglo, for his part, “thanked Saudi Arabia for hosting these discussions” while former civilian minister Khaled Omar Youssef, sacked during the putsch, said he hoped for “a comprehensive political solution”.
According to Sudanese officials, the FSR will be represented by relatives of General Daglo and his powerful brother Abderrahim, who passes for the financier of the FSR via his gold mines.
On the army side, senior officers known for their hostility to the FSR will be present, according to these same sources.
The Saudis are great allies and backers of both sides in Sudan. And the United States has enabled Sudan to return to the concert of nations by lifting two decades of sanctions in 2020.
These two countries seem to want to take precedence over regional initiatives. Igad, the East African bloc, is also trying to bring the generals back to the negotiating table through South Sudan, a historic mediator in Sudan.
On Saturday, Igad denounced the truce violations.
The African Union lost its leverage when it suspended Sudan after the 2021 putsch, experts say.
As for the Arab League, it must meet on Sunday the foreign ministers of its member countries, deeply divided on Sudan.
On the ground, the fighting, which is entering its fourth week, has claimed some 700 lives, according to the NGO ACLED, which lists the victims of conflicts. They also left 5,000 injured, 335,000 displaced and 115,000 refugees, according to the UN.
On Friday, they also killed 12 civilians in el-Obeid, 300 km south of the capital, according to the doctors’ union.
Beyond the direct victims, this conflict is increasing hunger, a scourge that already affected a third of the 45 million Sudanese. According to the UN, between 2 and 2.5 million additional people could suffer from acute malnutrition within six months if the fighting continues.
For the experts, the war will be long as the two belligerents seem to have the same combat capacities and to be reluctant to engage in political negotiations before having won on the ground.
The Sudanese, on the other hand, still live barricaded for fear of stray bullets in the scorching heat and now largely deprived of telephones: the operator MTN has announced the cessation of its services, because it can no longer supply its generators with fuel.
In Darfur (west), in the western border of Chad, civilians have been armed to participate in clashes mixing soldiers, paramilitaries and tribal or rebel fighters, according to the UN.
Nearly 200 people were killed there, according to the NGO Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
In Port Sudan, on the coast spared from the violence, the UN and more and more NGOs are trying to negotiate the delivery of aid shipments to Khartoum and Darfur where hospitals and humanitarian stocks have been looted and bombed .