Sudanese army calls for veterans to re-enlist, sporadic fighting continues
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises above buildings after an aerial bombardment, during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan, May 1, 2023. REUTERS/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
By Nafisa Eltahir and Khalid Abdelaziz
CAIRO/DUBAI (Reuters) – Sudan’s military on Friday called on reservists and retired soldiers to re-enlist amid deadly conflict with a rival paramilitary force and demanded the United Nations change special envoy in this country.
The call for veterans to report to their nearest military base is intended to strengthen troops in battle with the paramilitary forces of the Rapid Support Force (RSF), but may pour more oil on the days of conflict into a truce.
Sporadic skirmishes continued all week, although Saudi and US ceasefire monitors said earlier on Friday that compliance was improving, but the moves of the military may indicate they are preparing for a lasting conflict.
An army spokesman said enlistment would be voluntary. However, Sudan’s current armed forces law states that retired soldiers remain reservists, eligible for mandatory re-enlistment. That does not include those who have only served Sudan’s mandatory two-year military service.
Military leader Abdel-Fatteh al-Burhan wrote to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday asking him to replace special envoy Volker Perthes, sources in the Sudanese presidential palace said.
The sources did not provide details but Perthes, who was appointed in 2021, has pushed for a political transition to civilian rule that some in the military oppose.
“The Secretary-General is shocked by the letter,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday. “The Secretary-General is proud of the work of Volker Perthes and reaffirms his complete confidence in his Special Representative.”
Military sources said the army also intercepted weapons smuggled by a foreign country into a province in the Red Sea of Sudan, but did not give details.
The military and RSF began a seven-day truce on Monday to allow access to aid and services following battles since mid-April that have killed hundreds and created a crisis. refugee.
Although fighting has decreased, there have been reports throughout the week of clashes, artillery fire and air raids.
Representatives from Saudi Arabia and the United States “warned the parties against further violations and urged them to respect the May 25 cease-fire, which they did,” it added.
Residents of Khartoum who stayed in the city suffered from problems with electricity, water, medical services and communications.
Many homes, especially in affluent areas, were looted, along with food stores, flour mills and other essential facilities.
“It’s all part of the chaos of this war,” said Taysir Abdelrahim, who from abroad discovered his house had been looted. “Even if we’re in Sudan, there’s nothing you can do.”
An organization that helps children with cancer said a guesthouse it ran was raided, including a safe and a patient room. The children have been moved before.
The RSF has denied looting, blaming those who stole their uniforms. Its fighters mainly took refuge in the vicinity of Khartoum, while the army relied on air power.
It is unclear which side has gained the advantage.
About 1.3 million people have fled their homes, across borders or within the vast country.
The Health Ministry says at least 730 people have died, although the actual number is likely much higher.
With half of Sudan’s approximately 49 million people in need of aid, the US Agency for International Development said grain to feed 2 million people for a month was sent by ship.
However, it is unclear how that and other aid would reach Sudan without security guarantees and bureaucratic approval.
“We are racing against time to get aid to millions of people before the rainy season arrives in June,” said Eltahir Imam, director of the Islamic Relief program.
The Saudi-American statement said some aid had been delivered to Khartoum on Friday, but gave no details. The Red Cross said it had managed to supply seven hospitals with supplies.
According to human rights monitors living in the area, fighting has broken out in several major cities in western Sudan in recent days, most recently overnight in El Fashir, the capital of North Darfur state.
Zalingei and El Geneina lost contact between the militia attacks. Nyala residents said calm had returned after days of fighting, although the water was still cut off.