Calm Returns to Sudan Capital as Cease-Fire Appears to Take Hold

An uneasy calm descended on Sudan’s capital after the warring sides battling for control of the North African nation agreed to a cease-fire.

(Bloomberg) — An uneasy calm descended on Sudan’s capital after the warring sides battling for control of the North African nation agreed to a cease-fire.

There was no sound of gunfire, shelling or military aircraft flying over Khartoum from around sunrise on Tuesday morning, hours after Sudanese army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, backed a 72-hour humanitarian truce. The accord, announced by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken late on Monday, was the result of Saudi-US mediation, Sudan’s army said in a statement.

The truce will hold “provided that the rebels commit to ceasing all hostile activities and adhere to the requirements to continue it,” the army’s spokesman said in a statement on Facebook.

The halt to fighting comes as foreign governments intensify efforts to mediate an end to the crisis that’s unfolded since clashes between Burhan and Dagalo’s forces erupted on April 15. The violence has left more than 420 people dead and thousands of others injured.

Sudan’s neighbors are “deeply worried” about the conflict spreading, but are refraining from intervening because of concern that if the fighting spills across their borders, the region may “disintegrate into warring factions,” said Nick Westcott, director of the Royal African Society in London.

Sitting at the crossroads of the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan has drawn interest from foreign powers including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Western powers have dangled billions of dollars in frozen aid in a push for a return of civilian rule after a 2021 coup in a country also coveted by Russia and China for its strategic Red Sea coastline and mineral resources.

Egypt has historically backed the army in Sudan, and the two nations are aligned in opposing the construction of a massive hydro-power dam in Ethiopia — the neighboring country that’s the main source of their fresh water. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have forged close ties with the Rapid Support Forces through the use of its fighters in a war in Yemen, while Dagalo is thought to have business links in the Gulf.

Foreign governments are increasingly looking to the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional bloc, to lead mediation efforts since they may be able to bring the pressure of countries in the region to bear on the two men, the diplomats said. The continental body will hold a briefing on April 28 to discuss the situation in Sudan and other conflicts on the continent.

“We strongly support African-led efforts to help both mediate this crisis, to end the hostilities,” Blinken told reporters in Washington on Monday. The US is working with international partners and Sudanese groups to create a committee “to oversee the negotiation, conclusion, and implementation of a permanent cessation of hostilities,” he said.

–With assistance from Kateryna Kadabashy.

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