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Sudan's army chief warns UN, says war could spread beyond country's borders

AP |
Sep 22, 2023 03:11 PM IST

Sudan plunged into conflict in April when long-simmering tensions escalated between military and the rival Rapid Support Forces.

The war in Sudan could spread beyond the northeast African country's borders if it is not stopped, Sudan's army chief told the United Nations General Assembly, while urging world leaders to designate the rival paramilitary force as a terrorist group.

President of the Transitional Sovereignty Council of Sudan Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman Al-Burhan addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters. (AFP)

“The nature of this war is now a threat to regional and international peace and security. ... This is like the spark of war, a war that will spill over to other countries in the region,” Sudan's Army Chief Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan told world leaders late Thursday.

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Sudan plunged into conflict in April when long-simmering tensions escalated between the military, led by Gen. Burhan, and the rival Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Both had joined forces in 2021 to seize power in a coup that cast aside Sudan's pro-democracy forces.

The conflict has killed at least 5,000 people and wounded 12,000 others, according to Volker Perthes, the UN envoy in the country, who announced his resignation last week.

Gen. Burhan said the Sudanese military has “knocked (on) all doors to stop this war” and asked the UN to designate the RSF as a terrorist group. The RSF, he said, has committed “all sorts of crimes that give grounds for such a designation,” including receiving the help of “outlaws and terrorist groups” from other countries.

“Those who have supported killing, burning, raping, forced displacement, looting, stealing, torture, trafficking of arms and drugs, bringing mercenaries or recruiting children - all such crimes necessitate accountability and punishment,” Burhan said.

Both the Sudanese military and the RSF have been accused by Amnesty International of extensive war crimes, including deliberate killings of civilians and mass sexual assault.

At least 4.6 million people have been displaced in the fighting, according to U.N. data. Children are among those affected the most, with at least 1,200 of them killed in displacement camps because of a deadly combination of measles and malnutrition.

The conflict must be resolved for Sudan to transition to democracy through a peaceful election, Burhan said

“We are still committed to our previous pledges to transfer to the people of Sudan with great national consensus and consent so that the armed forces will leave politics once and for all,” he said.

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