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After UN speech, army leader Burhan hints at peace talks

Questions on the legitimacy of Sudan's junta leaders abound as their six month war devastates the country

Suggestions by Sudan Armed Forces commander, General Abdel Fattah al Burhan that he is willing to open negotiations with his rival Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti', head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia offers a chance to negotiate a ceasefire but lacked any clear plan to structure the talks. Making the comment after his speech to the UN General Assembly in which he called for Hemeti's RSF to be designated as a terrorist organisation, Burhan seemed more interested in clawing back some diplomatic standing.

Burhan told the BBC that he would open talks with Hemeti provided that the RSF agrees not to target civilians. The two sides have been reduced to a war of attrition. Hemeti's RSF retains control of most of the capital Khartoum and central Sudan. Some of the deadliest fighting is in Darfur where the RSF is accused of running an 'ethnic cleansing' campaign, repeating the tactics of the National Islamic Front's genocide two decades ago. Burhan's SAF controls Port Sudan and most of the rest of the country (Dispatches 20/9/23. Political movement warns of civil war).

Peace talks led by Saudi Arabia and the United States have failed to make significant progress, in part because Burhan and the SAF view themselves as representing the legitimate government and Hemeti's RSF as a rebel militia. Hemeti has some support among regional leaders, such as Kenya's William Ruto.

Having escaped from Khartoum and under fire from RSF, Burhan has stepped up his own diplomatic outreach efforts in recent weeks, meeting with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el Sisi. Speaking to the UN General Assembly on 21 September, Burhan called for the RSF to be designated as a terrorist organisation.

'This war is a threat to regional and international peace and security as those rebels have sought the support of outlaws and terrorist groups,' said Burhan. He also warned it could spill over to other countries in the region.

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