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Sudan's warring generals agree to 24-hour truce

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Smoke rises in Omdurman, near Halfaya Bridge, during clashes as seen from Khartoum North, Sudan April 15, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Sudan's warring generals have agreed on a 24-hour truce, hours after the army rejected a call by rival paramilitary forces for the humanitarian ceasefire.

The ceasefire started at 6:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Tuesday evening and will not extend beyond the agreed 24 hours, Army General Shams El Din Kabbashi, a member of Sudan's ruling military council, told al Arabiya TV.

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries had proposed a 24-hour pause in the fighting on Tuesday, after four days of fierce fighting that has claimed the lives of at least 200 people

Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the RSF said on Twitter after his call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the RSF "reaffirms its approval" of a 24-hour "armistice to ensure the safe passage of civilians and the evacuation of the wounded.”

The army, however, initially dismissed his offer, accusing the RSF of trying to use a cease-fire “to cover up the crushing defeat it will receive within hours.”

"We are not aware of any coordination with the mediators and the international community about a truce, and the rebellion's declaration of a 24-hour truce aims to cover up the crushing defeat it will receive within hours," it said.

In the meantime, the paramilitary group posted a video statement on Twitter that appeared to show its armed fighters assembled outside the presidential palace in the capital Khartoum.

The fighters claimed in the video that they have captured the capital.

Explosions, however, continued to rock the capital and across Sudan during the day, as it was not clear who was in control of the country, or which of the two dueling forces had the upper hand in the violence, which has now entered the fourth day.

The deadly violence, which erupted on Saturday has so far killed nearly 185 people and wounded more than 1,800 others, according to United Nations figures.

The ongoing battle is between the forces of two generals who seized power in a 2021 coup: army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Daglo.

Egypt admits its troops' presence in Sudan

In another development, Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has for the first time publicly addressed his country’s military involvement in Sudan.

Sisi said in a meeting with top military officials on Monday night that Egypt was working to ensure the safety of its troops who were captured by paramilitary forces at a military base on Saturday.

“Our forces were present for training with the brothers in Sudan and not, absolutely not, for supporting any party against another,” he said.

General Hamdan Dagalo told Sky News Arabia TV that the Egyptian soldiers were safe, and that the RSF had provided them with food and water and was ready to facilitate their return.

Egypt, Sudan’s neighbor to the north, has been accused of giving military support to General al-Burhan, who has for years been the country’s de facto leader.

 People wait for a bus to flee from southern Khartoum on April 18, 2023. (Photo by AFP)

As the clashes continue, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies raised concerns about a health crisis in Sudan as it is nearly impossible to provide humanitarian aid in and around Khartoum.

If disruptions to the Sudanese health system persist, “it will almost go into a collapse,” the organization’s head for Sudan, Farid Aiywar, told reporters.

G7 foreign ministers call for an end to hostilities 

In a statement, the Group of Seven foreign ministers in Japan called on the warring parties to "end hostilities immediately.”

They warned the fighting "threatens the security and safety of Sudanese civilians and undermines efforts to restore Sudan's democratic transition.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also "underscored the urgent need for a ceasefire” after he had spoken with the two generals of Sudan.

“We have deep concerns about the overall security environment,” Blinken said at the G7 meeting.

The current clashes in Khartoum and its adjoining sister cities of Omdurman and Bahri threaten to plunge one of Africa’s biggest and most strategically important countries into chaos.

Analysts say only pressure from “heavyweight” intermediaries will have a chance of ending the fighting.

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