Khartoum – In a joint statement Thursday, foreign representatives of France, Germany, Norway, Britain, the U.S. and the European Union expressed concern over growing tension between Sudan’s armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF.
‘We call on Sudan’s military and civilian leaders to take active steps to reduce tensions,’ part of the statement released Thursday reads.
‘We urge them to hold to their commitments and engage constructively to resolve outstanding issues on security sector reform to establish a future unified, professional military accountable to a civilian government,’ further stressed the joint statement.
The Western diplomats jointly warned that the ongoing escalation threatens to disrupt negotiations on establishing a civilian-led transitional government in Sudan.
‘It is time to enter into a final political agreement that can deliver on the democratic aspirations of the people of Sudan,’ the diplomats emphasized.
Khalifa Saddiq, a Sudanese professor specializing in terrorism and extremist groups at International Africa University in Khartoum, told VOA the mobilization and counter mobilization of forces is a result of disagreements over the integration process between military commander Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and the commander of the RSF.
Saddiq said the RSF wants to show its military power and capabilities of influencing the political process in Sudan.
He said the RSF wants to pressure the army to accept its proposal, but the army seems to be solid in its position and immediately began to mobilize its forces as well, which led to growing tensions.
Last month, the two military groups failed to agree on the time frame for integration of the RSF and other armed groups into a unified army.
According to participants at an army and security reforms workshop, the army suggested two years for the integration process. However, the RSF said it wanted at least 10 years to complete the process.
On Wednesday, hundreds of RSF troops arrived in Merowe, more than 400 kilometers north of Khartoum, without coordination with military leadership, prompting the Sudanese army to send additional forces to the area and request their immediate departure.
The tension led to the suspension of talks in Khartoum between the two military institutions about the integration process.
Saddiq said if the tension continues and reaches any military confrontation, the situation could worsen in the country, which would have a huge impact on the already fragile security, political and economic situation in the country.
Shihab Ibrahim, a member of the civilian coalition Forces for Freedom and Change, or FFC, blamed the growing tension on elements of former long-time president Omer al-Bashir that create instability in the country.
Ibrahim said in recent days, the former government has been inciting violence between the army and the paramilitary group, which he believes is the main cause for the recent tensions between the two military institutions.
Haj Hamed, a political science lecturer at the Sudanese Center for African and Asian Studies in Khartoum, told VOA that disagreements between the two military groups is rooted in political interests.
He said both groups have allegedly committed crimes against civilians in recent years, and any military confrontation could lead to more atrocities.
‘Both of them are already inculcated in a huge number of crimes against humanity and other features,’ Hamed said. ‘They are comrades in arms and co-sponsors of a lot of crimes. I don’t think they have any idea of fighting each other.’
Since early this week, security and military tanks have been deployed around essential institutions in Khartoum, including the presidential palace.
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