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Hemeti joins rival in search for regional allies

RSF commander's talks with Ethiopia and Uganda risk further complicating the civil war as neighbouring countries pick sides

Last week's visits to Ethiopia and Uganda were the first public trips abroad by Rapid Support Forces Commander General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti' since the start of the civil war with Gen Abdel Fattah al Burhan's Sudan Armed Forces in April.

After meetings and photos with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on 27 December to 'brief' him on the war, the following day Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he had received Hemeti and his delegation 'to discuss peace and stability in Sudan'.

The diplomatic visits, which follow similar trips by Burhan, risk further complicating a conflict that has been made harder to resolve by regional players, such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, picking sides (AC Vol 64 No 23, Amid regional chaos, a glimmer of hope in Jeddah and Addis).

Burhan, meanwhile, cited Hemeti's friendly relationship with Kenyan President William Ruto as the reason for rejecting Ruto as the lead mediator for the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) (AC Vol 64 No 21, Politics in a time of war).

Hemeti's travels also scuppered plans for a meeting with Burhan in Djibouti on 28 December. Those talks are now set to take place on 3 January. The two leaders have not met in person since the start of the war but pressure from  international organisations for a ceasefire and peace talks had been building steadily in the final months of 2023.

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