Cautious calm prevailed in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Saturday morning, as a 24-hour truce entered into force between the army and the Rapid Support Forces.
The sounds of cannons disappeared in the city, as well as the bombing and flight of aircraft, after the cease-fire began at six o’clock in the morning Sudanese local time (four o’clock in the morning GMT).
The new truce – brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia – comes after a series of ceasefire agreements between the two parties to the conflict in Sudan.
According to a statement from the Saudi-American mediation, the agreement aims to “reach humanitarian aid, break the state of violence, and contribute to strengthening confidence-building measures between the two parties, which would allow the resumption of the Jeddah talks.”
The Sudanese army said it agreed to the armistice “taking into account the humanitarian aspects that our people suffer from as a result of the ongoing operations,” stressing that it reserves “the right to deal with any violations that the rebels may commit” during it.
The Rapid Support Forces also pledged to “fully” abide by the ceasefire agreement “to serve the purposes of the truce,” hoping that the army would fulfill its pledges “and not obstruct humanitarian aid efforts to alleviate the suffering of citizens.”
Since the start of the conflict last April, the two conflicting sides in Sudan have concluded ceasefire agreements that were quickly broken.
Sudan Conflict Monitor
On the other hand, the US State Department announced – yesterday evening, Friday – that it supports a platform called the “Sudan Conflict Monitor” to publish the results of satellite monitoring of the fighting and the ceasefire.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the observatory’s role is to issue reports on violations of international humanitarian law and others, adding that the time has come to end the “cycle of violence” that is destroying the Sudanese people.
A preliminary report by the observatory documented “widespread and targeted” destruction of water, electricity and communications facilities, according to Reuters.
It also documented “systematic” attacks to burn property, as well as several attacks on schools, mosques and other public buildings in the city of El Geneina (far west of the country).
In turn, the United Nations said that more than half of Sudan’s population will need aid this year due to the fighting, with most hospitals in conflict areas stopped working and food supplies decreasing in many areas.
The previous ceasefire allowed some humanitarian aid to arrive, but aid agencies said they were still hampered by fighting and looting.
Hours before the start of the new truce, battles continued between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, south and east of Khartoum. Al-Jazeera correspondent reported that violent explosions occurred in conjunction with the flight of the army’s air force planes in the skies east of the capital.
In a related development, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the Secretary-General of the United Nations, announced that the Sudanese government’s consideration of the international organization’s envoy as persona non grata “contradicts” the principles of the United Nations, and “cannot be applied,” pointing out that his status “has not changed.”
This came in response to Sudan’s announcement that UN Special Envoy Volker Peretz is not welcome in the country.
Dujarric said, “Peretz’s status has not changed now, and the position of the Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres) remains as he expressed it before the Security Council last week.” Referring to the “absolute confidence” expressed by Guterres regarding his envoy to Sudan.
And last Thursday, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations that Volker Peretz “is not welcome on its soil.”
Since last April 15, Khartoum and other cities have witnessed clashes between the army led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces “led by Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo (Hamidti), which left hundreds dead and thousands injured among civilians, in addition to a wave of displacement and asylum from one of the poorest countries in the world.