Concerns in Sudan as Army and Paramilitary Forces Confront | News

The military says the mobilization of the powerful paramilitary force, the Rapid Support Forces, is a “clear violation of the law”.

The Sudanese army said that a paramilitary group led by Major General Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo had mobilized its forces in the capital, Khartoum, and other cities, in a move that raises the possibility of confrontation with the armed forces.

The army said in a statement on Thursday that members of the Rapid Support Forces are also moving into the northern city of Marawi, in a “clear violation of the law” that threatens to create more tensions as Sudan passes what it called a “dangerous juncture”.

The RSF said in a statement on Twitter that it is deployed across the country as part of its missions and that its operations in Marawi are part of “national forces operating within the framework of the law and in full coordination with the Armed Forces Command”. .

The RSF, which operates under private law and has its own chain of command, is a powerful former militia that has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, particularly during the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, climbed the political ladder in Sudan by serving under former President Omar al-Bashir, under whom forces were recognized in 2017. Bashir was ousted after a mass protest movement against him in 2019.

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Hemedti is now the vice president of Sudan’s ruling council, which took power after the military and RSF coup in late 2021. However, he recently withdrew from the military and found common ground with a civilian political alliance.

Reporting from Khartoum, Al-Jazeera’s Heba Morgan said tensions between the army and the RSF have been escalating for months due to the RSF’s integration into the army.

The army wants to integrate the Rapid Support Forces into it during a two-year transitional period. The RSF wants to come under civilian command,” she said, adding that the military wants the RSF and its officers to be assessed before they are integrated.

Morgan said that political parties have warned of developments that could lead to political unrest.

“We are talking about two armed groups,” she said. “These tensions, if they escalate, could lead to all-out war between the two sides, plunging the country into civil war – something many political parties are warning about.”

Claims and counter-claims

A military source told Al Jazeera Arabic that the Sudanese army demanded the withdrawal of the RSF from Marawi within 24 hours.

Social media users circulated videos purporting to show the RSF’s movements towards Marawi, while other footage showed the arrival of reinforcements from the Sudanese army on Wednesday night.

Another source told Al-Jazeera Arabia that the state authorities in Marawi reported the deployment of about 100 military vehicles belonging to the Rapid Support Forces near Marawi Airport without any prior coordination with them.

In its statement on Twitter, Reporters Without Borders called on the Sudanese people and the media to avoid misinformation that aims to spread discord and undermine security and stability in the country.

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Groups of army supporters demonstrated in front of the army barracks in Marawi on Wednesday evening, chanting slogans in support of it, according to Al-Jazeera Al-Arabiya.

A video clip circulating on social media showed a division commander in the Sudanese army addressing the protesters to reassure them that the situation was under control.

Kholoud Khair – founder of Confluence Advisory, a Khartoum-based think tank – told Al Jazeera that while the army previously deployed the RSF, “the difference now is that the heads of these two organizations are at loggerheads, and the RSF is maneuvering by itself in one of the most strategic locations in Sudan, which is Merowe Dam.

deterioration of relations

The two armed bodies vie for supremacy as the army tries to assert its authority over all military forces in the country and the RSF has worked to maintain its independence since Bashir’s ouster.

After the 2021 coup, civilians demonstrated against military rule and to bring about a civilian-led transition and democratic elections.

But relations between the army and the RSF have soured, delaying implementation of an agreement reached in December to resolve the impasse with the civilian leadership.

In March, Sudanese political factions announced their agreement to form a new transitional government in April, which would see a representative from both the military and the RSF sit down alongside civilians to draft a new constitution.

According to the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the largest civilian group that signed the December agreement, the dispute between the army and the RSF focuses on military reform and the integration of the RSF into the armed forces.

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Amid Hemedti’s disagreement with the army, he is reluctant to set a clear deadline for joining his forces into the army, which is one of the provisions of the December agreement, according to military sources.

This led to the delay in signing a final settlement with the political forces for a civilian-led transition to elections.

A week before the planned signing, it was postponed for a second time, which led to renewed mass protests on 5 April. No new date has been set for signing.

Two senior military officials told the Associated Press news agency last week that the two armed factions had agreed to form a joint leadership of six members to oversee the merger process, but they disagreed over who would oversee it.

In recent weeks, both powers have accumulated troops and weapons in and around Khartoum. The army has greatly strengthened its presence in the city center, stopping armored vehicles at almost all intersections leading to the presidential palace.

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