The capital of Sudan was shaken by airstrikes and artillery exchanges on Saturday, and armed men trashed the Qatari consulate as the warring generals of the nation continued to vie for power after agreeing to a temporary humanitarian respite.
The two factions agreed to a seven-day truce that would begin the evening of May 22 as fierce battle rages in Khartoum, the United States and Saudi Arabia announced in a joint statement after negotiations in Jeddah on Saturday.
It said that the truce “shall continue for seven days and may be extended with the consent of both parties.”
Since combat started five weeks ago, many declared cease-fires have been broken, the Saudi foreign ministry admitted in a statement that was released by the official Saudi Press Agency early on Sunday.
“Unlike previous ceasefires, the Agreement reached in Jeddah was signed by the parties and will be supported by a US-Saudi and international-supported ceasefire monitoring mechanism,” the statement said.
It stated that future discussions “will focus on additional steps necessary to improve security and humanitarian conditions for civilians, such as vacating forces from urban centers, including civilian homes, accelerating the removal of impediments to the free movement of civilians and humanitarian actors, and enabling public servants to resume their regular duties.”
Fighting broke out on April 15 between the leaders of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the regular army, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, a former deputy who is now a contender.
More than one million individuals have been displaced by the fighting, the majority of them were civilians.
The third-largest nation in Africa, where one in three people already depended on help before the conflict, has received warnings from the UN about the rapidly worsening humanitarian situation there.
The news of the cease-fire on Saturday came two weeks after the first meeting of the warring generals' representatives in Jeddah.
By May 11, they had agreed to uphold humanitarian standards and let desperately needed supplies to enter.
Although it fell short of a truce, UN assistance head Martin Griffiths said on Thursday that there had been “important and egregious” breaches of that accord.
Burhan dismissed Daglo on Friday, replacing him as vice president of the Sovereign Council with former rebel commander Malik Agar, and nominated three supporters to senior military positions.
Agar, a former rebel commander who signed a peace agreement with Khartoum authorities in 2020, said in a statement on Saturday that he remained steadfast in his efforts to “end the war” and push for talks.
“A professional and unified army is the only way to restore stability to Sudan,” he said, addressing Daglo directly.
The major point of dispute between Daglo and Burhan has been the RSF's integration into the regular military forces.
The force is quite mobile but has a reputation for being sloppy. Its roots may be found in the infamous Janjaweed militia, which was sent in to put down an ethnic minority insurgency in Darfur in the early 2000s.
Its fighters have been charged with several break-ins and thefts, notably at diplomatic missions and the offices of relief organizations.
THE MAXIMUM RESTRAINT
The latest diplomatic facility to be targeted was Qatar's embassy on Saturday, which drew criticism from Doha.
The government said that “none of the diplomats or embassy staff were subjected to any harm” because “the embassy staff had previously been evacuated.”
Calls for “an immediate halt to the fighting” were reiterated.
Despite the fact that Qatar did not expressly name Daglo's RSF as the offender, a statement from the pro-Burhan authorities placed the paramilitaries in the direct line of responsibility.
In the previous weeks, there have also been attacks on the embassies of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
The assault on Saturday occurred a day after Arab leaders gathered for a conference in Saudi Arabia and urged the rival generals of Sudan to put an end to the conflict.
Although Khartoum is where most of the fighting is taking place, the RSF's home state of Darfur has also been hit by the turmoil.
The city of South Darfur, Nyala, has seen 22 people murdered in combat since Thursday, prompting residents to leave for safety as shells pelt their houses, according to the Darfur bar association.
Griffith, the head of UN assistance, said on Friday that $22 million in emergency cash will be provided to assist Sudanese escaping the violence.
According to him, the money would support humanitarian operations in the countries where Sudanese have sought asylum: South Sudan, Egypt, the Central African Republic, and Chad.
For the purpose of assisting displaced individuals, the United States pledged $103 million to Sudan and its neighboring nations.