The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) will only enter into negotiations with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) if the paramilitaries withdraw from the homes and offices they are occupying in the various cities under their control, chairman of the Sovereignty Council and commander-in-chief of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, repeated in speeches on Friday. He also called the meeting of the Civil Democratic Forces (Tagaddum) alliance with the RSF commander ‘a big mistake‘.
In his addresses to the Infantry Institute and to the Non-Commissioned Officers Institute in the Jebeit military area in Red Sea state on Friday, El Burhan repeated the army’s stances about its war with the RSF that erupted in mid-April last year and has led to more than 12,000 people killed, and more than 7.2 million people displaced from their homes, making it the largest displacement crisis globally.
He reiterated his pledges “to arm popular resistance groups and organise them to defend themselves and the homeland, as the RSF are fighting the Sudanese people, not the army.
“All Sudanese people stand with the state and its armed forces and will bear arms to defend the homeland. We will not hesitate to train and arm everyone capable of carrying weapons, and every citizen has the right to defend himself, his home, his money and his honour against the mercenaries.”
The army commander promised revenge for the victims of the RSF in Ardamata and El Geneina in West Darfur. “Our covenant with those who were martyred, killed, displaced, and whose honour was violated, and those who were tortured and buried alive in Ardamata and El Geneina, is to fulfil their rights”.
El Burhan launched a stinging attack on the RSF commander himself, calling him an arrogant man. “The leader of the rebellion falsely claims religiosity and believes in quackery and sorcery. He kills innocents, sheds blood, violates honour, loots property, displaced millions of innocent citizens, and deceives the simple of mind.
“He has been hiding for eight months and has not appeared to the public all this time. … While we are present among our soldiers, fighting with them, and we do not know how to hide. We appear in public every day. We did not flee like the leaders of the rebellion, and there is no solution except after the mercenaries return to where they came from.”
He also expressed his regret about countries in the region that received Hemedti on his tour through Africa. “This represents an insult to Sudan and the Sudanese people,” he said. “Major researchers in the world have proven that these forces, led by Lt Gen Dagalo, have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, so they should be treated as terrorist forces.”
El Burhan’s speech comes ahead of an expected face-to-face meeting with Hemedti in Djibouti in January, originally scheduled by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to take place on December 28.
He renewed his position to support any efforts that would stop the war. “We extend our hands to every sincere effort to stop the war, but we will not allow anyone who wants to kill and plunder in the name of false legitimacy.”
The army leader told “those talking about new negotiations” about his commitment to stopping the war and repeated SAF’s conditions for entering into negotiations with the RSF: they are to withdraw from the civilian objects they are occupying, return all stolen money and property to their owners, and hold accountable everyone who committed a crime against the Sudanese people.
“Without these conditions, there is no Islam and no negotiation,” he said.
Addis Ababa Declaration
In his first reaction to the Addis Ababa Declaration signed by the RSF with the Tagaddum alliance of pro-democracy political parties and groups in Addis Ababa on January 2, El Burhan warned the coalition “to stay away from the RSF leader if they are patriots” and “not to turn against the SAF as the militia did”.
The Tagaddum alliance made a mistake by signing an agreement with “a group of rebels and outlaws that is considered by the world as terrorist forces that committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“After all that, an agreement was made with him to return him back to power again,” he claimed, and expressed his rejection of the agreement as “unacceptable”.
The SAF commander expressed his welcome for a Tagaddum dialogue with the army leaders, provided that it is inside Sudan. “We have no objection to dialogue for every Sudanese who wants to stop the war, cares about the interests of Sudan, and wants to restore to the Sudanese their prestige and status.”
The newly elected head of the Justice and Equality Movement, Suleiman Sandal, commented on the words of El Burhan by saying that the SAF commander “with his speech in Jebeit, has closed the curtain on any dialogue or positive meeting between the two parties, dismissing the suffering of the people to the wall.
“El Burhan deliberately wanted his speech to extinguish the ray of peace that loomed on the horizon after the signing of the Addis Ababa Declaration. But there is great hope that the will for peace will prevail. Indeed, it will prevail and become a reality,” the rebel leader stated.
@Kandakat_alhaqq commented in a post on X on Friday that El Burhan in “his useless speech” .. highlighted RSF crimes in Darfur and consistently criticised them throughout the speech, declared a stance of no peace or agreements with RSF, referred to Hemedti as a clown, traitor, and coward, criticised presidents who welcomed Hemedti in recent visits to Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, and today Rwanda, and emphasised civilian support for SAF against RSF, as civilians are arming themselves—”this is not true, as SAF’s betrayal left them with no alternative”.
Much of what El Burhan said on Friday was a repetition of earlier speeches. On December 31, he addressed the people of Sudan on the occasion of the 68th anniversary of the country’s independence.
Human rights defender Majdi El Naeem described that speech as “contradictory”. The army commander “fluctuates in his positions from welcoming peace to calling for war,” the lawyer said. “He denounced advocates for stopping the war and at the same time he said that he supports calls for peace.
Journalist Shamayel El Nour told Radio Dabanga that the speech of El Burhan and of Hemedti “contain an evasion of responsibility and a denial of reality in a way that hardly deserves comment”.
While members of the Sovereignty Council deny that its chairperson El Burhan did receive a message from the Civil Democratic Forces alliance for a meeting, the Tagaddum chairperson, former PM Abdallah Hamdok, last week again sent him a request.
“Today, I addressed the Commander-in-Chief of the Sudanese Armed Forces to urge him to accept the request for a direct meeting with the Civil Democratic Forces (Tagaddum), to seize the opportunity that arose to stop the war,” Hamdok stated.
“This was expressed in the Addis Ababa Declaration signed between Tagaddum and the Rapid Support Forces, in which the RSF expressed Its full readiness for an unconditional cessation of hostilities through direct negotiations with the armed forces. We must not waste this opportunity for peace and do our best to stop the war and build sustainable peace in our beloved country.”
The deputy chair of the Sovereignty Council, Malik Agar on Wednesday called the Addis Ababa Declaration “an agreement between partners”.