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Khartoum, April 29 – Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, leader of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Force’s (RSF) — one of the two warring factions in the violence-hit African nation, said that there won’t be any talks until the fighting ends.
Speaking to the BBC on Friday night, Dagalo, popularly known as Hemedti, alleged that RSF fighters were being “relentlessly” bombed since a three-day truce had been extended on Thursday midnight.
The initial 72-hour ceasefire was brokered by the US on Monday and the extension of the truce came after intensive diplomatic efforts by neighbouring countries, as well as Washington, the UK and UN.
“We don’t want to destroy Sudan,” Dagalo told the BBC and blamed Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chief of the Sudanese Armed (SAF) — the second warring faction — for the violence.
Gen Burhan has tentatively agreed to face-to-face talks in South Sudan.
The RSF chief further said that he was open to talks but the condition was that the ceasefire should hold: “Cease hostilities. After that we can have negotiations.”
Dagalo said he had no personal problem with Gen Burhan, but regarded him as a traitor for bringing into government those loyal to former President Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted together by the SAF and RSF in 2019 after mass street protests.
“Unfortunately Burhan is being led by the radical Islamic front leaders,” he told the BBC.
In 2021, he and Gen Burhan overturned an agreement to share power with civilians, taking full control in a coup.
The two military leaders fell out this year over the proposed return to civilian rule, in particular about the timeframe of incorporating Dagalo’s 100,000-strong RSF inclusion into the army.
“I am looking forward to having the civilian government today — before tomorrow, a fully civilian government. This is my principle,” he told the BBC.
He also said that RSF fighters were not the enemies of the military soldiers, explaining they were battling to protect the country from “the relics of the government of the past 30 years”.
“We won’t fight you. Please go back to your army divisions and we won’t fight you.”
Since the violence first erupted on April 15, 512 people have been killed and 4,193 other injured, according to Sudan’s Health Ministry.
The UN however, estimates that the death toll could be much higher.
As well as the thousands of foreigners who have been evacuated, tens of thousands of Sudanese have crossed into neighbouring countries, including Chad, Egypt and South Sudan.
Besides capital Khartoum, the violence has also spread to other areas in Sudan like Darfur, particularly in the city of El Geneina, where the RSF and militias linked to the group are reported to have looted and torched markets, aid warehouses and banks.
In Khartoum, millions remain trapped amid shortages of food, water and fuel.