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Yesterday the head of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo arrived in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa in a rare foreign trip since civil war engulfed Sudan starting April.
The military leader who typically maintains a low profile avoids travel abroad, but has recently gone to Uganda, where he held discussions with President Yoweri Museveni. While in Addis Ababa, Daglo expressed a vision for negotiations, cessation of hostilities, and the reconstruction of the Sudanese state on what he terms “new, just foundations.”
The RSF leader is anticipated to visit Kenya in the coming days. Emphasizing the importance of “securing peace and security,” Daglo met with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen as well as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. In a statement made on X, Daglo mentioned that their discussions encompassed the urgent need to conclude the ongoing war, address the historical crisis in Sudan, and find effective ways to alleviate the hardships faced by the Sudanese people.
Dagalo’s trip to Addis Ababa occurs amid a flurry of diplomatic efforts to arrange a meeting between the RSF commander and his adversary, Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who also recently met with regional leaders, including those in Ethiopia, Kenya and Eritrea.
The conflicting generals have not held a face-to-face meeting since the hostilities began between their forces, resulting tens of thousands of civilians deaths according to conservative estimates, and the displacement of millions.
The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), a regional bloc representing eight countries in the broader East Africa region, has been working to facilitate a meeting between al-Burhan and Daglo since the onset of the war.
A planned meeting in Djibouti between the rivals on December 28 has been postponed to early January 2024 for technical reasons, as communicated by Djiboutian authorities.
Facing its own internal unrest in addition to a border dispute with Sudan, Ethiopia has remained muted regarding the on going war in Sudan. Maintaining neutrality is seen to be in the long term interest of the country.
Expressing concern about the escalating violence in Sudan, the UN Security Council recently highlighted the spread of fighting to areas that were previously considered safe havens for those displaced by the conflict.
In recent months, clashes have progressively expanded in central Sudan to areas previously held by the , with RSF combatants establishing checkpoints along the villages between Khartoum and Wad Madani. The RSF, whose main backer remains the United Arab Emirates is having the military upper hand in recent weeks of fighting.
According to the UN, the war has led to the internal displacement of more than seven million people, with an additional 1.5 million fleeing to neighboring countries. Both sides have faced accusations of committing war crimes.