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Sudan crisis: Darfur governor issues call to arms

May 28, 2023

The governor of Sudan's Darfur region has urged citizens to arm themselves amid fears of escalating violence. A shaky nationwide truce is due to expire tomorrow.

People walk among scattered objects in the market of El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur
West Darfur has been particularly badly scarred by recent fightingImage: -/AFP

The governor of Sudan's conflict-ridden Darfur on Sunday urged residents to take up arms, voicing support for the national army in its fight with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Since the conflict erupted in mid-April, much of the fiercest fighting has raged in the capital Khartoum and the western Darfur region, near the border with Chad.

The RSF paramilitaries have originated from the notorious Janjaweed militia, which is accused of countless atrocities in the Darfur war that began two decades ago.

What the Darfur governor said

"There are many who do not wish for the safety or rights of citizens and deliberately sabotage national institutions," Darfur governor Mini Minnawi wrote on Twitter.

 "I call on all our honorable citizens, the people of Darfur, old and young, men and women, to take up arms to protect their property."

Darfur has already been scarred by decades of unrest, leaving hundreds of thousands dead, more than two million displaced and the region awash with weapons.

Conflict in Sudan "re-ignites conflict in Darfur": Abiol Lual Deng, East Africa analyst

In 2003, Sudan's then-president Omar al-Bashir unleash the Janjaweed militia, drawn from Arab nomadic tribes to suppress a rebellion among ethnic minority groups.

Minnawi is a former rebel whose faction fought against the militias, which eventually morphed into the more formalized RSF.

Clashes could be heard overnight and on Sunday in El Fashir, one of the principal cities in Darfur, and in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

End of imperfect ceasefire looms

A weeklong ceasefire brokered by Saudi Arabia and the US is due to run until Monday evening.

Washington and Riyadh are remotely monitoring the truce and called on the army and the RSF to readopt the "imperfectly observed" ceasefire so that humanitarian work can take place.

"There were violations by both parties that significantly impeded the delivery of humanitarian assistance and restoration of essential services," Saudi Arabia and the US said in a joint statement.

The statement noted there had been breaches of the truce, including air strikes and seizure of medical supplies by the army, and looting and occupation of civilian buildings by the RSF.

"Both parties have told facilitators their goal is de-escalation to facilitate humanitarian assistance and essential repairs, yet both parties are posturing for further escalation," it said.

The conflict between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has led to lawlessness and a collapse in services, driving nearly 1.4 million people from their homes.

The regular military led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan and the RSF led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, have each failed to deliver a decisive blow to the other in their fight for control of the country.

rc/dj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)