AfricaArmy, Paramilitary Force Face Off In Sudan

Army, Paramilitary Force Face Off In Sudan

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SUDAN – In a move that raises the prospect of confrontation with armed forces, a paramilitary group headed by General Mohamed Hamdan has mobilised its force in Sudan’s capital and other cities in the country.

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The army said in a statement on Thursday that members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were also moving into the northern city of Marawi in a “clear violation of law” that risked creating more tensions as Sudan goes through what it described as a “dangerous juncture”.

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The RSF said in a statement on Twitter that it deploys across the country as part of its duties and that its operations in Marawi were part of “national forces operating within the framework of the law and in full coordination with the leadership of the armed forces”.

The RSF, which operates under a special law and has its own chain of command, is a powerful former militia that has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, especially during the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, climbed Sudan’s political ladder by serving under former leader Omar al-Bashir, under whom the forces were recognised in 2017. Al-Bashir was removed after a mass protest movement against him in 2019.

Hemeti is now deputy leader of Sudan’s ruling council, which took power after a coup by the army and RSF in late 2021. However, he has recently pulled away from the military and found common ground with a civilian political alliance.

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Reporting from Khartoum, Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said tensions between the army and RSF have been rising for months over the integration of the RSF into the military.

“The army wants the integration of the RSF into it within a two-year transitional period. The RSF wants to fall under civilian leadership,” she said, adding that the army wants RSF forces and officers to be assessed before they are integrated.

Morgan said political parties have warned against developments that could lead to political turmoil.

“We are talking about two armed groups,” she said. “These tensions, should they escalate, could lead to a full-on war between the two sides, pushing the country into a civil war – something many political parties have been warning against.”

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