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Fissures in the Horn triggered by UAE and Saudi Arabia sponsorship

Sudan's walk out from IGAD is latest sign of deepening rivalries in the Horn of Africa

The growing fissures among East Africa's leaders over the civil war in Sudan were on show at last week's Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit in Kampala, and the decision by the military regime in Khartoum to suspend its membership of the bloc undermines hopes of IGAD brokering peace talks (AC Vol 64 No 23,Amid regional chaos, a glimmer of hope in Jeddah and Addis).

Sudan Armed Forces leader Abdel Fattah al Burhan had  protested IGAD's decision to invite Rapid Support Forces commander General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti', to the summit in Uganda, and refused to participate.

At its summit on 18 January, IGAD reiterated its call for 'an immediate and unconditional ceasefire' in the 'unjust war affecting the people' of Sudan and offered itself as a mediator of face-to-face meetings between Hemeti and Burhan.

Other inter-regional disputes are adding to the fractures among leaders. Over the weekend, Kenya's foreign minister Musalia Mudavadi was forced to deny reports that relations between his government and Sudan have deteriorated, in part because of President William Ruto's relationship with Hemeti. The Ruto government has also had a series of trade disputes with Uganda and Tanzania.

Hemeti, who has diplomatic and military support from the United Arab Emirates, has stepped up his diplomatic efforts in East Africa in recent weeks, having audiences with Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopia's Abiy Ahmed (Dispatches 2/1/24, Hemeti joins rival in search for regional allies).

On New Year's Day, Hemeti signed a declaration with Sudan's former civilian prime minister Abdalla Hamdok and the pro-civilian Coordination of Civil Democratic Forces (Taqaddum) pledging support for a transition to civil rule. Taqaddum has been trying to elicit a similar agreement from Gen Burhan without success so far.

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