Sudan War: Army Chief signals willingness for dialogue
The head of Sudan’s army, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, recently spoke with the BBC and expressed his willingness to engage in peace talks with the commander of rebel forces, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, despite the ongoing internal conflict in Sudan since April.
This conflict, according to the UN, has resulted in over 5,000 casualties and displaced more than five million people.
Gen Burhan, who came to power through a coup in 2021, granted a rare interview to the BBC after addressing the UN General Assembly in New York.
He leads the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and has been on a global diplomatic tour, seeking international support and legitimacy for his leadership, which has yet to transition power to civilian authorities.
While denying allegations that his forces are targeting civilians, despite evidence from the UN and charities of indiscriminate air strikes on residential areas, Gen Burhan remains confident in his pursuit of victory.
However, due to the intensifying conflict in the capital, Khartoum, he has relocated his headquarters to Port Sudan.
Gen Burhan has indicated his willingness to negotiate with Gen Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, as long as both sides adhere to commitments made during talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in May.
He stated: “We are ready to engage in negotiations.
“If the leadership of these mutinous forces has the desire to return to its senses and pull its troops out of the residential areas and return to its barracks, then we will sit with any of them… Whenever he commits to what was agreed in Jeddah, we will sit to resolve this problem.”
In a video message this week, Hemedti also claimed he was ready for political talks.
Both generals have talked about ceasefires before – but so far that has not led to any lessening in the fighting.
Gen Burhan denied Sudan would become a failed state like Somalia – or a divided country like Libya.
“Sudan will remain united. Sudan will remain a state intact, not a failed state. We don’t want what happened in the other countries you mentioned. The Sudanese people are now united behind one cause, ending this mutiny peacefully or by combat,” he said.
The UN has said that neither warring party appears close to a decisive military victory.
Gen Burhan said he was “definitely” confident of defeating the RSF. But he admitted the fighting had forced him out of the capital.
“In Khartoum, diplomatic missions, the ministries and all government organs cannot carry out their duties as normal,” he said.
“Because it is a war zone, there are snipers and military operations taking place. That is why no entity can now work in Khartoum.”
There is widespread evidence that civilians in Sudan are dying in indiscriminate air strikes carried out by Gen Burhan’s forces in residential areas, particularly in Khartoum. But the general denied civilians were being deliberately targeted.
“This is not correct,” he said.