The Sudanese Ministry of Defence on Friday announced the mobilisation of former army officers and soldiers. The Rapid Support Forces has severely criticised the move.
In a circular posted on social media in the early evening, Lt Gen Yasin Ibrahim, acting Minister of Defence, called on reserve officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) to present themselves at their nearest military base.
The call is made “in line with the conditions imposed by the rebellion, its targeting of honourable and innocent citizens and using them as human shields, the theft of their property and the occupation of their homes, in addition to intimidation and humiliation.
The SAF accuses “the rebels”, as they call the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) since the start of the war in the country on April 15, of “disrupting public life by targeting of service centres (water, electricity, hospitals) and the state’s infrastructure, looting banks and burning markets, airports and ministries, and creating chaos by liberating prisoners and occupying police stations and the headquarters of the General Intelligence Service.
“In support of the great military effort made by the SAF in order to restore security and stability, it has been decided to call in full for all officers, non-commissioned officers, and pensioners of the Armed Forces.”
Medically and physically fit officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers whose age does not exceed 65 years, are able to carry and use weapons, are to present themselves to the nearest military unit, as of Monday, May 29.
According to the Sudan Armed Forces Act, retired soldiers remain reservists, eligible for compulsory re-enlistment. An army spokesperson however said that the enlistment would be voluntary.
The RSF called the “general mobilisation” by the army “a very dangerous statement” as it “entails arming retired soldiers and all citizens capable of bearing arms”.
Following the mobilisation call, the spokesperson for the RSF said in a statement on social media that the decision “clearly reflects the despair and confusion of the SAF and its co-conspirators from the former regime of military dictator Omar Al Bashir.
“Since the outbreak of the war, they have repeatedly failed to successfully confront the RSF on the battlefield and now seek to take refuge behind the innocent civilian population.
“The decision to allow ordinary civilians to bear arms is a potential recipe for disaster. In addition to all else, it could render null and void the successful efforts taken in recent years to collect the myriad illegal arms once harboured by the civilian population, which were aimed at reducing the rate of violent crime and the potential for interethnic/other conflict in Sudan.”
According to the RSF, the decision of the Defence Ministry “also contradicts international norms, ethics, and accepted military strategies, and proves once more that multiple decision-making centres presently exist within the SAF leadership hierarchy, which is now under the control of the Al Bashir regime”.
The spokesperson concludes his statement with saying that the RSF “will not stop until we have achieved a definitive victory and secured Sudan’s democratic transformation. We vow to bring to justice this corrupt junta and eradicate these sick cells from the body of our great nation.”
On May 21, the army and the RSF agreed on a seven-day ceasefire in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. to allow access to aid and services. The armistice would come into effect on Monday evening, but fighting however was reported in the capital and in Darfur this week.
Sudan’s warring parties have repeatedly failed to honour earlier agreed-on ceasefires that were also brokered by US-Saudi Arabian facilitators in Jeddah. Analysts have warned of protracted fighting leading to a war of attrition.