CAIRO (Reuters) -Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Friday vowed to continue a nine-month war between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), rejecting the latest peace efforts.
RSF head Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo agreed earlier this week to a ceasefire proposed by civilian groups, contingent on the military agreeing also. But observers responded sceptically in light of the paramilitary force’s prior unfulfilled promises.
The U.S. has accused both the army and RSF of war crimes, and it says the RSF is also responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.
“The whole world witnessed these rebel forces committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in West Darfur and the rest of Sudan. For that reason, we have no reconciliation with them, we have no agreement with them,” Burhan, who is also Sudan’s head of state, told troops gathered in Port Sudan in video released by his office.
He was referring to ethnic cleansing in and around the West Darfur city of El Geneina.
The war that began on April 15 has devastated wide swathes of Sudan and displaced more than 7.5 million people.
With the RSF appearing to gain the upper hand in the fight, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an African trade bloc, got Burhan and Dagalo, known as Hemedti, last month to agree to an in-person meeting.
But Burhan on Friday ruled that out and called his rival a “clown”, “traitor” and “coward”. He rejected the ceasefire deal Dagalo signed in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, this week.
Burhan also criticised leaders of African countries including South Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya who received Dagalo as a statesman during visits this week and Sudanese politicians who met him in Ethiopia.
“He is humiliating the Sudanese people, he is killing them, insulting them, and some people are clapping for him and laughing with him,” Burhan said.
The RSF has faced growing popular resistance in northern Sudan after it last month raided Gezira State and ransacked farming villages.
Burhan said he would arm Sudanese people who wanted to fight the RSF and urged them to join the military. The country faces the threat of falling under “bondage and colonialism,” Burhan said. It was an apparent reference to the United Arab Emirates, which the army accuses of supporting the RSF.
Dagalo has shared photos in which he was disembarking from a jet owned by an Emirati airline that flight records show has gone to the places on his regional tour.
(Reporting by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Alison Williams and Cynthia Osterman)