Signing of Sudan’s Final Agreement postponed over SAF-RSF differences

Animosities between El Burhan and Hemeti could pose a danger to the Framework Agreement (Cartoon: Omar Dafallah / RD)

KHARTOUM – April 4, 2023

The signatories of the Framework Agreement yesterday decided to postpone the signing of the Final Agreement to April 6 instead of April 1, as originally planned, to give the junta members extra days to resolve differences over military integration and reform.

The signing of the Final Agreement between the ruling military junta and more than 40 political parties and groups who signed the Framework Agreement on December 5 last year would conclude the current political process and pave the way for civilian-led democratic governance. The Framework Agreement postponed five ‘thorny issues’ until the Final Agreement, including agreements on security and military reform.

The announcement of the postponement came after a meeting between civilian parties involved in the political process, Commander of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Chair of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, and Sovereignty Council Deputy Chair and Commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, at the Republican Palace in Khartoum on Saturday.

According to the signatories’ spokesperson for the political process, former Cabinet Minister Khaled Yousef, the parties gave the military leaders five days to end their differences over the security sector reform.

Adam Suleiman, Professor of Economics at the University of El Fasher in North Darfur, questions whether the parties can adhere to the April 6 deadline as the differences between the army and the RSF, and the difference between the civilian parties themselves, are still far from being solved.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, he also said that the position of the armed forces on security and military reform is far from clear.

Sources told Asharq Alawsat newspaper that the meeting at the Republican Palace was short and did not discuss any of the contentious issues between the SAF and RSF. Hemeti appeared angry and refused to speak at the meeting, which ended with the decision to postpone the signing of the Final Agreement.

The leaders of the SAF, Sudan’s official military, and the RSF, the country’s largest paramilitary, are reportedly quarrelling over the integration, reform, and modernisation of Sudan’s armed forces.

The integration process would see the merging of the two forces into a unified army as part of broader measures to reform the military and security forces in the country.


The postponement left the Sudanese with “great frustration and doubts about the completion of the ongoing political process, which calls for the military to leave power,” and reinforced the belief that everything that is happening is nothing more than an “April lie”, Asharq Alawsat reported.

Doubts and low expectations already surrounded the signing of the Framework Agreement as many Sudanese were sceptical about the promises from the military to leave politics. Others, including most of the resistance committees in the country, categorically reject any settlement with the military.

Two months ago, the mainstream Forces for Freedom and Change, the FFC-Central Council, decided to postpone the planned dialogues on security and military reform and (transitional) justice until after the formation of a new transitional government after the political process entered “a real impasse”.

The official spokesperson for the Sudan Armed Forces, Brig Gen Nabil Abdallah, said on Saturday that the final signing of the Final Agreement will not take place unless schedules are clearly set for integrating the RSF into the army.

He told El Wefag newspaper that the merger arrangements must be part of the Final Agreement and added: “We cannot make an agreement when there are two armies in the country”.

‘We cannot make an agreement when there are two armies in the country’ – Brig Gen Nabil Abdallah

Integration dispute

Speculations about a split between El Burhan’s SAF and Hemeti’s RSF intensified after recent speeches.

Writer and political analyst Mohamed Hereika told Radio Dabanga that “the hidden conflict between the two sides surfaced and intensified after the signing of the Framework Agreement, which stipulates the unification of the various military institutions”.

In recent speeches, El Burhan has continuously mentioned the integration of the RSF ‘into the SAF’, rather than speaking about an equal merging or ‘unification’.

“Whereas Hemeti, through his political manoeuvres, wants to present himself as an opponent against the Islamists and confirm that his political future is radically linked to the Framework Agreement – which El Burhan signed under international pressure and for personal gains,” Hereika said.

Hemeti gave a speech in which he acknowledged that the October 2021 military coup, led by El Burhan and himself, was wrong and admitted that the coup has become a gateway for affiliates of the former Islamist Al Bashir regime to return.

“His speech was clear and confirmed his commitment to the Framework Agreement. El Burhan’s repeated talk about the integration of the RSF can be considered as incitement from Al Bashir supporters, who are seeking to thwart the Framework Agreement by creating strife and conspiracies to achieve a rift between the Rapid Support Forces and the military establishment,” Hereika explained.

The RSF Deputy Commander, Hemeti’s brother Abdelrahim Dagalo, even gave a speech in which he said that the RSF will not allow the killing of protesters or detention of politicians ‘from today on’ and: “We say to those in power: hand over power to the people without turning around”.

Activists, however, still regard the RSF as an enemy of the people and highlight that the militia is held responsible for many atrocities in Sudanespecially in Darfur.

Retired Sudanese Navy Lt Col Omar Arbab said that the differences between the army and the RSF are of both a political and economic nature.

In a recent seminar on Twitter, he explained that “talk about the integration of the armed forces is based on a political vision and focusses on the RSF, whilst turning a blind eye to the rebel movements”.

He said that the RSF can currently be distinguished from the armed forces by the young age of their members, higher levels of training, and the higher rate of income, compared to SAF members. The SAF has not provided training courses for members of the army for a long time, Lt Col Arbab explained.

“The RSF seeks to swallow the army through continuous recruitment campaigns,” he said.

He accused the army of involvement in the formation of new militias such as the Homeland Shield Forces and the Sudan Entity Forces, warning of the dire consequences of this approach.

‘The RSF has become a state within a state, and this is a worrying matter’ – Lt Col Omar Arbab

On the possibility of a collision between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, Lt Col Arbab told El Taghyeer news outlet last year that “there is no doubt that the movements and expansion of the RSF have been denounced within the army, and many believe that El Burhan’s weakness was the reason for this expansion. It is a correct belief in my estimation”.

He also told the Sudanese news outlet at the time that he believes El Burhan is trying to politically outmanoeuvre Hemeti and get rid of him. The RSF, however, “has doubled its military power and expanded in other economic and social areas, even externally, and it has become a state within a state, and this is a worrying matter,” he explained.

Yet, regarding “the possibility of confrontations between the army and the rapid support, I do not think that they will occur due to the balance of power between the two parties, and if they happen, God forbid, it means the end of a state whose name was Sudan,” the retired Lt Col said.