Sudan’s ceasefire was still a matter of uncertainty on Thursday morning, hours after leaders from the region announced the warring parties had agreed to temporarily suspend fighting.
Last minute calls coordinated between the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), the African Union and the United Nations had announced success: That the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) will halt fire to allow humanitarian access and evacuation of trapped civilians. But it appears to have suffered from lack of trust between the warring sides, already.
A statement released by the Trilateral Mechanism on Sudan, as the three organisations are often known, noted “the commitment by the Sudanese Armed Forces and RSF to implement a ceasefire for 24 hours”. It was to be effective from 6pm Khartoum time on Wednesday to 6pm on Thursday.
“The Trilateral Mechanism appeals to all sides to create necessary conditions during this period for the civilians to seek safe shelter, food and medical care.”
It also called for a permanent cessation of hostilities to create suitable conditions for dialogue.
No confirmed ceasefire
That optimism was dented on Thursday morning after neither party confirmed the ceasefire.
Sudanese junta leader Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan had indicated he would cooperate with the regional leaders with an Igad team of heads of states expected in Khartoum should the fires halt.
The RSF, which blames the Army for failed previous ceasefire calls also accused the army of hacking its website to “propagate immoral material.” The RSF has labelled the junta leader Burhan as an impediment to the people, a very unusual label considering the two sides have coordinated in the past to commit a coup.
Since Saturday, the Sudanese Armed Forces led by al-Burhan have been fighting against the RSF, a paramilitary unit led by his deputy Mohammed Daglo ‘Hemedti’ in a war that has largely taken on urban dwellings, trapping thousands of people. The UN said on Wednesday at least 270 people had been killed and thousands injured.
Hospitals and residential areas have been shelled, raising criticism for the warring parties’ violation of international laws on war and humanitarian access.
On Wednesday, a series of calls between leaders of AU, Igad and UN was meant to push for a permanent ceasefire.
Kenyan President William Ruto said he had spoken with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and agreed on urgent need for cessation of hostilities and to allow an Igad mission to Khartoum to engage the conflicting parties.
“The restoration of sustainable peace and security in Sudan remains our priority as we work towards having a more united, stable and prosperous Africa,” he said.
Ruto said priority is allowing unrestricted access to humanitarian aid and extending full cooperation to the Igad heads of states mission when it visits Khartoum.
That mission should have happened on Monday but an earlier ceasefire call collapsed just ten minutes into the halt. The parties blamed each other.
Attacks on diplomats
Sudan’s parties have come under criticism for attacking diplomatic installations, a violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic, and consular relations.
“The EU recalls the importance of full respect for the integrity of diplomatic staff and premises under the Vienna Convention, and strongly appeals to the competent authorities to fully protect their security,” Josep Borrel, the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The EU will continue to actively engage with key partners to ensure that all parties give priority to silencing the guns, ending violence, de-escalating the situation and resolving political differences through dialogue. External actors should refrain from fuelling the conflict.”