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Why violence has erupted in Sudan

On Saturday, fighting broke out in Sudan as the army and paramilitary clashed. At least 56 people were killed and hundreds of others injured.

The clashes were the first since the alliance was formed in 2019, but they are the result of a long-running power struggle.

What you should know

Who is the main player?


On the one hand, you have General Abdel Fatah al-Burhan and Sudan’s Army.

Since a military coup on October 20, 2021, he has been de facto the president of the country.

The Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary organization that was once allied with the military but is now a rival of it, are on the other side.

Hemedti, also known as General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo is the RSF’s leader. He is also the deputy leader of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council.

Both sides have long-standing disagreements about how to run the country.

Both sides claim to have control over strategic locations including the Presidential Palace, airports, and air bases.

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What is happening in Sudan?

Why is violence on the rise?

The violence on Saturday was a result of tensions surrounding the transition from military rule to civilian rule.

The situation escalated as RSF soldiers were deployed across the country in the days before.

In an unusual statement made in the early morning hours of Thursday, it was stated that the mobilisation was a “clear breach of the law”.

The main source of tension was the disagreement between the army, the paramilitary and the RSF over the timing and method for integrating the RSF into the military.

The RSF claimed that it would take ten years to complete the transition, while the army wanted this to be completed in two years.

The merger is one of the key conditions for a deal that was agreed on in December, which would see civilians gain more power.

After failed negotiations, the agreement was originally supposed to be signed by 1 April. However, it has now been postponed.

Read More:

Why tensions could escalate in Sudan into an “all-out civil conflict”

Sixty-five civilians among 56 dead in heavy fighting in Sudan

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“Tension was boiling” in Sudan

Where are the fights taking place?

Both sides accused each other of starting the fighting at a base of military south of Khartoum.

The clashes spread to other parts of the city including the airport, the presidential palace, and the military headquarters.

Gunfire has been reported in several parts of the country. Witnesses report heavy gunfire exchanges in Merowe, a city in northern Sudan.

Who is the RSF?

RSF is composed of around 100,000 troops. It evolved from the so-called Janjaweed militias who fought in Darfur in the 2000s.

RSF is accused of committing atrocities in the Darfur conflict.

In 2017, the RSF was legitimised as a separate security force.

Image: Smoke rising from planes at Khartoum International Airport amid violent fighting

Transition to democracy

After months of protests, the former president Omar al-Bashir has been removed from office in 2019.

He was found guilty of money laundering and corruption, and by the International Criminal Court he was accused of war crimes and genocidal acts in relation to the violent conflict in Darfur.

After he was ousted, a joint military-civilian administration was formed. However, this was subsequently overthrown by the coup of 2021.

The army was put back in control, but faced with weekly demonstrations and economic problems that were worsening.


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