Tensions between Sudan’s two powerful military factions have been troubling the country since April of this year.
Sudan experienced a torturous dictatorship led by Oman Al- Bashir from 1989 to 2019. The autocracy ended following year-long pro-democracy protests across the country, with the military ultimately turning against Bashir. Bashir was officially overthrown in a coup-d’état on the 11th of April 2019.
Following Bashir’s removal, civilian protests called for a citizen-led transitional government to steer the country toward a democratic environment. The Transitional Military Council (TMC) responsible for the Khartoum massacre (where 128 were killed,70 were raped, and a hundred others were injured) was finally replaced with a Transitional cabinet consisting of four females, fourteen male civilian ministers, and two male military ministers, was announced in early September.
The move came after the signing of the Draft Constitutional Declaration and the Political agreement. Additionally, under an August 2019 agreement, the military agreed to share power with civilians ahead of elections. This arrangement was breached during a coup in October of 2021 when the army and the paramilitary force, Rapid Support Forces (RSF), joined hands to subvert the civilian government.
Since then, the military and the RSF have competed for power and relevance.
Tensions between the two, with the public continually demanding the integration of the RSF into the military and rising political instability in the region, have amplified in the last year. The tensions finally culminated in heavy clashes in mid-April.
Citizens in the city of Khartoum woke up to the sounds of gunfire and increased movement of military vehicles on both sides. When fighting broke out on April 15th, both sides blamed the other for provoking the violence.
The army accused the RSF of illegal mobilization in preceding days, and the RSF, as it moved on critical strategic sites in Khartoum, said the army had tried to seize total power in a plot with Bashir loyalists.
With a heightened state of emergency in the country, the Indian embassy in Sudan issued an advisory on 15th April 2023, warning all Indians to ‘Take utmost precautions, stay indoors and stop venturing outside with immediate effect.’
With reports of many civilians succumbing to the war in the country (at least 420 people have been killed and 3,700 injured in the fighting so far, as reported by the WHO health ministry), several countries have carried out evacuation procedures. On April 24th, France evacuated around 388 people belonging to twenty-seven countries.
Saudi Arabia, too, rescued many citizens belonging to various countries. Several Indian nationals were rescued as part of both these evacuation drives.
India, as part of its evacuation efforts, has launched Operation Kaveri. “Operation Kaveri” gets underway to bring back our citizens stranded in Sudan. About 500 Indians have reached Port Sudan—more are on their way. Our ships and aircraft are set to bring them back home. Committed to assisting all our brethren in Sudan," announced foreign minister S Jaishankar.
The IAF under Operation Kaveri has evacuated around 250 personnel from the war-torn country by two IAF C-130 J aircraft. Many more aircraft carriers, including INS Teg, have reached Port Sudan along with relief supplies and medical help.
MoS MEA V Muraleedharan stated that the government will continue Operation Kaveri until every Indian who wishes to come is brought back home safely.
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