When two leading figures in Sudan shook hands on a deal, it heralded hope that the war-torn country may finally be moving nearer to peace. Instead, it has complicated efforts to broker a truce in the long-running conflict.
The agreement between Sudan’s former prime minister Abdalla Hamdok and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as ‘Hemedti’, who heads the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), was brokered earlier this month on 2 January.
Their pact has made it less likely that direct talks between the RSF and Sudan’s regular army will take place. These had been planned by East Africa’s Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).
The head of the regular army, Commander Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, is now unlikely to agree to talks with Hemedti after his deal with Hamdok, who was allied with the civilian-led Sudan’s Democratic Forces movement (Taqadum).
IGAD delayed the planned face-to-face, citing logistical challenges hindering Hemedti from getting to the talks. However, these challenges did not stop him from reaching Djibouti to speak to the IGAD chief or Addis Ababa from Abu Dhabi for a two-day concord with Taqadum.
A political alliance
Some media outlets reported that preparatory meetings and preliminary talks also took place, noting that the United Arab Emirates is where several Taqadum leaders have lived since the start of Sudan’s war.
The Hamdok-Hemedti deal gives the RSF publicity, helping Hemedti advance his own political narrative. It also goes beyond a simple framework for ending hostilities and arranging humanitarian aid.
It is a clear political alliance backed by the RSF’s military strength, but since it was signed, there has been no discernible action to fulfil the humanitarian commitments outlined within it.