WASHINGTON: The military leader of Sudan, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, has called on the international community to declare the Rapid Support Forces a “terrorist” group responsible for war crimes in the country.
Al-Burhan, president of the Transitional Sovereign Council of the Republic of Sudan, said during his speech Thursday at the UN’s 78th General Assembly debate in New York, that the RSF and its allied tribal militias have committed “horrendous crimes” against civilians in West Darfur and other parts of the country.
He accused the RSF and its allies of committing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.”
“These groups have committed rape, looted property, seized citizens’ homes and properties, looted banks and destroyed public hospitals and buildings,” he said.
“I would like to reiterate our demand to the international community to designate the RSF and their allied militias as terrorist groups in order to protect the Sudanese people and the world,” he said.
The war in Sudan broke out in April when the RSF, led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who was formerly allied with Al-Burhan, began fighting in a bid to gain control of the country.
At least 5,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict and over 12,000 wounded, according to the UN and international agencies. Tens of thousands of Sudanese became refugees in neighboring countries as a result of the fighting.
The UN Special Envoy for Sudan Volker Perthes, who resigned from his position last week, had reportedly claimed that there were at least 13 mass graves in and around Geneina, the capital of West Darfur’s province.
Al-Burhan has rejected claims that the battle between his forces and the RSF was a civil war.
“Some characterized this war as an internal war between two parties, however the aggression by the RSF was not only against the armed forces, but it extended to all state components,” he said.
Al-Burhan said his government has used every opportunity to seek an end to the conflict, including attending meetings hosted by Saudi Arabia, with the participation of the US, Turkiye and South Sudan.
“The rebels have refused every solution to the crisis.” Instead they are “destroying the state and committing genocide,” he said.
Despite the seemingly intractable situation, Al-Burhan said he remains hopeful of reaching a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
“Till this day we extend the hand of peace to stop this war and the suffering of the Sudanese people,” he said.
Al-Burhan said he remains committed to civilian rule through democratic elections.
“We are still committed to our previous pledges to transfer power to the people of Sudan and that the armed forces would leave politics once and for all,” he said.
Dagalo, the leader of the RSF, said in a statement on Thursday, coinciding with Al-Burhan’s UN speech, that he is “fully prepared for a ceasefire and to engage in comprehensive political talks for an end to its civil conflict with the armed forces.”