Sudan Army Chief Warns: “War could spill over into neighbours”

Sudan’s de facto leader has warned the UN that his country’s war could spill over into neighbouring African nations.

In a speech, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan also urged the international community to designate his opponents, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a terrorist group.

Meanwhile, RSF leader Hamdan Dagalo said he was prepared for a ceasefire.

Since April, Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war that has killed thousands of people.

Back in 2021, the two generals staged a coup, but in recent months a power struggle between them has led to their men taking up arms against each other.

Speaking to the UN on Thursday, Gen Burhan said his party was open to peace talks, and wanted to “put an end to this war and to alleviate the suffering of our people”, but said the RSF refused.

However, in a rare video message to the UN, his opponent, Gen Dagalo – also known as Hemedti – said he was ready to engage in talks.

Sudan’s civil war erupted in April when members of the RSF were deployed around the country in a move the army, led by Gen Burhan, saw as a threat.

It is disputed who fired the first shot but the fighting swiftly escalated in different parts of the country. The fighting has killed at least 7,500 people according to NGO Acled and displaced millions.

Gen Burhan, who had been the de facto leader of Sudan following a coup in 2021, has been travelling around the world seeking to gain international support.

Addressing the UN he also alluded to the RSF’s ties to Wagner, a Russian mercenary group who are operating across Africa in the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Mozambique and Mali.

“The danger of this war is now a threat to regional and international peace and security as those rebels have sought the support of outlaws and terrorist groups from different countries in the region and the world,” he said.

Gen Burhan also argued the RSF should be considered a terrorist group as they had “supported killing, burning, raping, forced displacement, looting, stealing, torture, trafficking of arms and drugs, bringing mercenaries or recruiting children”.

He said those crimes required accountability and punishment.

However, Gen Burhan has also faced criticisms for military actions throughout the conflict.

Upon his resignation in mid-September, the UN envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes was fiercely critical of both generals who he said had chosen to plunge the country into a war.

The RSF fighters are embedded in densely populated urban areas and the Sudanese military appears to view these areas as legitimate targets.

Mr Perthes blamed the RSF for the sexual violence, looting and killings in areas it controls. He also condemned the Sudanese armed forces for indiscriminate aerial bombings.

Already, the US has imposed sanctions on RSF leaders including Gen Dagalo, but the West has also been strongly critical of Gen Burhan due to his role in displacing Sudan’s leading party in a 2021 coup.

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