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Political movement warns of civil war

The opposition FFC urges regional leaders to step up efforts to broker a ceasefire as the battle of attrition increases the prospect of the country's partition

The warning by the civilian political movement, the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), that the formation of rival governments by warring militia groups could lead to Sudan's partition, should push regional leaders and the wider international community to redouble efforts to broker a ceasefire.

Last week, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti', leader of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), threatened to set up a governing authority in areas under the control of his forces.

In response, the FFC – which was at the heart of the transitional government formed after the ousting of President Omer el Beshir in 2019 following a wave of public protest – said in a statement that threats by both sides to form a government were 'an extremely dangerous issue that will result in the partition and division of the country' and could lead to a 'comprehensive civil war'.

In April, the FFC warned presciently that Sudan risked being plunged into a full-scale civil war and the conflict quickly turned into a war of attrition that has already displaced more than four million people (AC Vol 64 No 9, How the generals blew up the transition). Both sides are focused on cutting each other's supply lines by heavy bombardment (AC Vol 64 No 15, Hemeti's grand plan is stalemated). The conflict has also become increasingly ethnically focused.

Hemeti's RSF retains control of most of the capital Khartoum, as well as areas of south-west and central Sudan. The army, led by Sudan's Sovereign Council, headed by army chief General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, control much of the rest of the country including the Red Sea city of Port Sudan. Members of the Sovereign Council have hinted at a caretaker government based in Port Sudan.

In the absence of a ceasefire, the continuation of the battle of attrition increases the prospect of the two sides proclaiming rival administrations.

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) would need to force Hemeti's forces out of Khartoum in order to present itself as the legitimate authority fighting a rebel force. However, there is little prospect of such a military breakthrough, and both sides have strong diplomatic support bases.

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