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Tense Hours in the Sudan

Since last night, Wednesday, the Sudanese have been living in difficult hours and continuous anticipation, after the exchange of both the army and the Rapid Support Forces, moving military reinforcements towards the Meroe area in the north, and even inside the capital, Khartoum.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Sudanese army spokesman urged General Hamdan Daglo to withdraw his troops deployed without any agreement in Merowe, a town in the northern state located nearly 210 kilometers from Khartoum.

The Rapid Support Forces deployed about 200 military vehicles and trucks full of soldiers and personnel together with heavy, light and all sorts of weapons they might own to Merowe, where, by Wednesday morning, they made their presence felt in the city and set base west of the military airport in mostly agricultural land.

Residents have called for a protest against the presence of rapid support paramilitary forces in an area where the Sudanese and Egyptian armies have military planes.

According to eyewitnesses from the people of Merowe who spoke to Al-Jazeera Net, the army, which owns an infantry base in Merowe, hastened to declare a state of alert, deliberately surrounded the Rapid Support Force, and ordered its commander to withdraw from the site, but to no avail, as the force was given 24 hours to leave, ending this evening. Thursday.

Merowe represents an important strategic point and plays a role to ensure the security of the entire country, according to the security experts. The region houses two sorts of airports, a civilian one and an exclusively military one and therefore the armed forces would never accept or allow the presence of other military forces in the country around these airports and the town.

In light of the army's escalation and military sources confirming the worsening situation in Merowe, a spokesman for the Rapid Support Forces issued a statement yesterday night, Wednesday, in which he said that, as national forces, they carry out a number of national tasks and duties guaranteed to them by law, working in coordination with the leadership of the armed forces and the rest of the other regular forces in their movements.

He stated that his forces are deployed and moved throughout the country in order to achieve security and stability, combat the very present human trafficking problem in the whole north African region for that matter, irregular and illegal migration, combat smuggling and drugs, and finally put an end to the different forms of crime and armed gangs known for playing the roles of bandits wherever they exist.

However, the Sudanese Armed Forces through the statement of their spokesman denied the existence of any form of joint coordination between them and the Rapid Support Forces, and intelligence sources told multiple newsletters that the large number of the concerned forces deployed in Merowe confirms its endeavor to impose a fait accompli policy and force the army to accept it around the airport, which will not happen, as he put it.

The leaders of the various Sudanese armed factions announced on Thursday an initiative aimed at easing tensions between the country's army and the Rapid Support Forces, in order to defuse the security crisis.

This is according to a joint statement by the leader of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), Minni Arko Minnawi, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement, Jibril Ibrahim, and the leader of the People's Movement for the Liberation of Sudan-North (SPLM-North), Malik Agar.

The Rapid Support Forces are a paramilitary force led by the Vice President of the Sovereign Transitional Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hamidati).

Created in 2013 to fight the rebels of the Darfur region (west), it was then responsible for protecting the borders and maintaining order.

Affiliated with the Security and Intelligence Service, the number of these Rapid Support Forces is not known, but it would exceed tens of thousands of men.

The Rapid Support Forces made a name for themselves during the revolution, in 2019, that ousted dictator Omar al-Bashir. After they took part in the military coup d’état that ousted the dictator, there name was linked with the killings of multiple civilian protestors.

These tensions come at a time where military authorities are avoiding to honor the treaty they made with the civilian authorities to hand power to them. The signing of an agreement allowing the relaunch of the democratic transition in Sudan scheduled for April 6 has been postponed indefinitely. Negotiations are still stumbling over the integration of the Rapid Support Forces (FSR) into the regular troops.

Edited by : Ritaja Kar


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