Sudan Armed Forces chief retires ‘defecting’ Major General in charge of Abyei

SAF Maj Gen Mohamed Alawi Koko Mukhir announces defection to RSF (Photo @RSFsudan)

The Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces, and leader of the ruling Sudan junta, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, has announced the ‘retirement’ of Maj Gen Mohamed Alawi Koko Mukhir, after the general announced his intention to join the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, that has been embroiled in an increasingly bitter conflict with the SAF across Sudan.

The announcement by El Burhan, confirmed by the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA), states that Maj Gen Mohamed Alawi Koko Mukhir has been placed in retirement, effective Friday October 20. El Burhan has also relieved Gen Mukhir of the position of Chairman of the Joint Supervisory Committee for the fractious Abyei* area, effective the same day.

El Burhan’s decree followed a video announcement by Gen Alawi on Thursday, shared by the RSF via X (formerly called Twitter), of his intention, along with more than 320 SAF soldiers, to defect to the rival RSF, which under the leadership of Gen Mohamed ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo, has been involved in a bitter conflict with the SAF across Sudan since April 15.


Since the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, both countries claim the border area of Abyei. The oil-rich region is inhabited primarily by members of the South Sudanese Dinka Ngok clan. It is also the seasonal home of the Sudanese Arab Misseriya herder tribe.

The Abyei status referendum, in which the residents of the region would decide either to remain part of Sudan or become part of South Sudan, was planned to be held simultaneously to the South Sudanese independence referendum in January 2011, but was postponed indefinitely because of disagreements over the process.

The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (Unisfa) was established by the UN Security Council in June 2011 to monitor and verify the redeployment of armed forces from Abyei. Unisfa also has a mandate to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, to protect the area from incursions by unauthorized elements, and ensure security.