Sudanese conflict

Published April 25, 2023

SUDAN’S two top generals are locked in a vicious power struggle that threatens to push the African nation into the abyss of another long civil war. The main protagonists in this bloody drama are Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s uniformed de facto ruler, and his erstwhile ally Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Sudan has suffered from long bouts of military rule since independence, with perhaps the longest period being the Omar al-Bashir era which ended when the strongman was ousted in 2019 after mass protests. However, the transition to democracy was short-lived, as both men struck together in 2021 to send the provisional government home. Now the coup-makers are at each other’s throats. Sudan is, unfortunately, no stranger to civil war, as the conflicts in Darfur and South Sudan have shown. The latter conflict ended with South Sudan’s secession in 2011. The latest flare-up began earlier this month, with the UN saying that over 400 deaths have been reported in the violence since April 15. The fiercest fighting has been witnessed in the capital Khartoum, though clashes have occurred nationwide.

The feeling amongst the international community is that this may turn out to be a long, bloody struggle. That is why states have rushed to evacuate their citizens from Sudan. The Foreign Office says over 400 Pakistanis are ready to be repatriated from Port Sudan, while an unidentified number was earlier evacuated apparently with Saudi help. Pakistan’s mission in Khartoum was also reported to have been hit by gunfire a few days ago. The government must ensure that all Pakistanis in the conflict zone are brought home safely. Meanwhile, the Arab League, African Union and the OIC need to step up efforts to make the warring generals put down their guns. The only long-term solution to Sudan’s systemic crisis is for the generals to return to the barracks, and for the country to transition to civilian rule.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2023

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