The leader of a paramilitary force fighting Sudan’s army since April says he is battling to bring democracy back to Sudan and vowed to quickly win the war against his nemesis, Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan.
Rapid Support Forces commander Gen Mohamed Dagalo called Gen Al Burhan a “liar”, a “criminal” and a “traitor”, and accused him of starting the war in an audio message posted on Monday night on X, formerly Twitter. He also sought to distance himself from the 2021 takeover jointly led by the two generals.
The 20-minute recording had the tone of a tirade rather than an address to the nation, with Gen Dagalo using vernacular Sudanese Arabic. It also appeared to be a response to comments made by Gen Al Burhan in the nearly two weeks after he left Khartoum for the first time since the war began.
Gen Al Burhan has called his rival a traitor and accused RSF fighters of committing war crimes. He has also vowed to continue fighting until the last man standing, promised to restore democracy and end the military’s involvement in politics.
“We are not traitors, but treachery runs in your blood, Ya Burhan,” said Gen Dagalo.
Gen Dagalo said the RSF was “defending itself, the Sudanese people, democracy and all of Sudan”, accusing Gen Al Burhan of starting the war despite what he said were his attempts to defuse tension before it broke out.
He said the RSF did not want to “destroy” the Sudanese army, but rather rid the nation of remnants of the regime of Omar Al Bashir, ousted in 2019, who have joined the fight against the paramilitary.
“There is no Sudanese army now, just remnants,” he said. Gen Al Burhan, he said, reinstated army officers known to be loyal to Al Bashir, claiming that his rival waged the war to cling to power.
Gen Al Burhan has repeatedly denied that he allied with Al Bashir loyalists, saying the RSF was spreading these allegations to deceive the Sudanese people.
Gen Dagalo also vowed to end the war quickly and to restore democracy,
“The battle will end very soon, God willing,” he said. “And we will bring genuine democracy, a democracy of justice and fighting corruption.”
Gen Dagalo, better known by his nickname Hemedti, also sought to dismiss claims that the RSF was exclusively made up of Arab tribesmen from Sudan’s outlying Darfur and Kordofan regions.
“The support forces bring together men from across Sudan,” he said.
The war between the RSF and the army is widely seen as a fight for political and military supremacy between the two generals. It has created a massive humanitarian crisis, forcing nearly five million people to flee their homes. Of these, more than one million crossed into neighbouring nations.
Among the displaced are about 2.8 million from Khartoum, according to the International Organisation for Migration. That is more than half the capital’s prewar population of about five million.
Those still in the capital, built around the confluence of the White and Blue Niles, are enduring power and water supply cuts, scarce health care and skyrocketing food and fuel prices.
The RSF’s forerunner is the notorious Janjaweed militia, which was accused of committing genocide in the western Darfur region when it fought on the side of the government against ethnic African rebels in the 2000s.
It is accused of vicious attacks against ethnic African civilians in Darfur this summer, killing thousands and forcing tens of thousands to flee across the border into Chad.
The International Criminal Court is investigating the killings in Darfur by the RSF and allied Arab militias. The ICC indicted Al Bashir and several of his top aides, including Janjaweed leaders, for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Darfur during the civil war in the 2000s.
The army is accused of recklessly using air strikes and heavy artillery to target RSF positions in the Sudanese capital, killing hundreds of civilians and damaging private property.
RSF fighters are also accused of large-scale looting in Khartoum, where they occupied hundreds of private homes and turned them into field bases.