In a video message released to mark the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, Sudan’s army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan stated that the military is committed to a transition to civilian rule. This comes amid ongoing violent conflict between the military and the paramilitary forces in Sudan that began nearly a week ago.
The sounds of heavy fighting could be heard amid the call to prayer in the Sudanese capital, where mosques are expected to hold the morning services inside to protect worshippers. The conflict has raised fears of a spillover from the strategically located nation to its African neighbors.
Since he took control of the country in an October 2021 coup, Burhan and his rival, commander of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, have repeatedly promised to shepherd the country toward civilian rule. However, both have failed to sign political agreements that would see their institutions lose power and open the way for democratic elections.
On Thursday, Sudan’s military ruled out negotiations with the rival Rapid Support Forces, saying it would only accept its surrender. The two sides continued to battle in central Khartoum, the capital, and other parts of the country, threatening to wreck international attempts to broker a longer cease-fire.
The military’s statement raised the likelihood of a renewed surge in the nearly weeklong violence that has killed hundreds and pushed Sudan’s population to the breaking point. Alarm has grown that the country’s medical system was on the verge of collapse, with many hospitals forced to shut down and others running out of supplies.
“Ruin and destruction and the sound of bullets have left no place for the happiness everyone in our beloved country deserves,” Burhan said in the speech. The video message was the first time Burhan has been seen since fighting engulfed the capital and other areas of the country. It wasn’t known when or where the video was made.
Both sides have a long history of human rights abuses. The RSF was born out of the Janjaweed militias, which were accused of widespread atrocities when the government deployed them to put down a rebellion in Sudan’s western Darfur region in the early 2000s.
International leaders have condemned the violence and urged both sides to end the fighting and negotiate a peaceful resolution. The United Nations has called for an immediate end to the violence and for the protection of civilians caught in the conflict.
The conflict has also led to a humanitarian crisis, with thousands of people forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in overcrowded camps. The United Nations and other aid organizations are working to provide assistance to those affected by the violence.
Sudan is a country with a rich cultural history and is known for its ancient pyramids and archaeological sites. However, the ongoing conflict threatens to destabilize the country and undo years of progress.