Fighting rages in Sudan: What’s behind the conflict

2023-04-19 17:45:19
Fighting rages in Sudan: What’s behind the conflict

At least 270 people have been killed in Sudan since clashes broke out in the Northeast African nation, the World Health Organization said, citing Sudan’s health ministry.

Thousands of residents have fled Sudan’s capital as fighting between the army and the paramilitary raged for a fifth day after a 24-hour truce collapsed.

Civilians stuck in their homes are becoming increasingly desperate, with dwindling food supplies, power outages, and a lack of running water.

Their hopes of being evacuated were dashed when the ceasefire collapsed within minutes of its proposed start on Tuesday.

Thousands of people took matters into their own hands and, according to witnesses, began leaving their homes in Khartoum, some in cars and others on foot, including women and children.

They said the streets were littered with human bodies, the stench of which filled the air.

The fighting is now concentrated around the army headquarters and Khartoum International Airport, Al Jazeera reported.

What’s behind the fighting?

The clashes erupted amid an apparent power struggle between the two main factions of Sudan’s military regime.

The Sudanese armed forces are broadly loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the country’s de facto ruler, while the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a collection of militia, follow the former warlord Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti.

The power struggle has its roots in the years before a 2019 uprising that ousted the dictatorial ruler Omar al-Bashir, who built up formidable security forces that he deliberately set against one another.

When an effort to transition to a democratic civilian-led government faltered after Bashir’s fall, an eventual showdown appeared inevitable, with diplomats in Khartoum warning in early 2022 that they feared such an outbreak of violence. In recent weeks, tensions have risen further.

What are the faultlines?

A central cause of tension since the uprising is the civilian demand for oversight of the military and integration of the RSF into the regular armed forces.

Civilians have also called for the handover of lucrative military holdings in agriculture, trade and other industries, a crucial source of power for an army that has often outsourced military action to regional militias.

Another point of contention is the pursuit of justice over allegations of war crimes by the military and its allies in the conflict in Darfur from 2003. The international criminal court is seeking trials for Bashir and other Sudanese suspects.

Justice is also being sought over the killings of pro-democracy protesters in June 2019, in which military forces are implicated. Activists and civilian groups have been angered by delays to an official investigation. In addition, they want justice for at least 125 people killed by security forces in protests since the 2021 coup.


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