NAIROBI – The Sudan talks organised under the IGAD good offices at the 42nd Extraordinary summit in Uganda on January 18 have run into headwinds after junta leader Gen Abdel al-Burhan said he will not attend.
IGAD Chairman and Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh had on January 11 convened an Extraordinary IGAD Summit on Sudan and the Ethiopia-Somalia diplomatic row, where it was expected Sudan Armed Forces leader Gen Burhan and RSF commander Hamdan Dagalo would meet.
In a letter by Djibouti Foreign Ministry to member states and the IGAD Secretariat on January 11, Djibouti said the meeting would be hosted by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni in Entebbe.
Vincent Waiswa Bagiire, Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uganda, confirmed the meeting.
“Heads of state of member countries will meet in Entebbe to discuss regional peace and security among other issues, ” Waiswa said.
On Saturday, Dagalo in a statement announced he would attend “in consistency with our firm position in support of a comprehensive, peaceful solution that ends, once and for all, the wars in Sudan in general, and the April 15 war in particular”.
“We in the Rapid Support Forces renew our commitment to putting an end to the suffering of the Sudanese people that has resulted from this war and the other ongoing wars in the peripheries of Sudan,” he said in the statement.
However, Burhan’s side on Saturday said it won’t participate in the Entebbe meeting as it feels there is “no need to hold a summit to discuss Sudan issue before implementing the outcomes of the previous summit.”
Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs also denounced the invitation of Dagalo, which it said was in flagrant violation of the agreement establishing IGAD and all the rules and traditions of international organizations.
It added that it was a gross disregard for the victims of genocide, ethnic cleansing, sexual violence and atrocities committed by RSF in different parts of Sudan.
’The Ministry does not need to remind that the establishment of an organization of sovereign governments aims to promote regional peace and security and achieve integration among member states, and there is no place in it for terrorist and criminal groups.
“Not only did IGAD remain silent as graves over the atrocities of the terrorist militia, which were condemned by international organizations such as the United Nations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union, the League of Arab States, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, and a number of countries, led by the United States, but it also sought to grant the militia legitimacy by calling for a meeting,” it said in the statement translated from Arabic.
In a sustained attack on IGAD, Sudan junta said the “shameful precedent” of inviting Dagalo “will not only destroy the credibility of IGAD as a regional organization, because it does not respect its documents and basic regulations and undermines the sovereignty of member states, but it also represents sponsorship of terrorism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, and encouragement for the groups that commit these atrocities”.
This effectively set the talks into disarray
It is a reverse of the failed Djibouti talks in December last year, when Dagalo asked for a postponement, while Burhan had confirmed attendance.
SAF accused RSF of procrastination and unwillingness to negotiate and end the ongoing war.
Through a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the military-led Sudanese government confirmed the peace talks in Djibouti were postponed over what IGAD termed as “technical reasons”.
The Ministry said it had received a letter from its Djibouti counterparts, Chair of IGAD, informing that Dagalo was unable to arrive in Djibouti for the meeting with Gen Al-Burhan, Chairman of the Transitional Sovereignty Council.
“Coordinating again to hold the meeting next January 2024,” the statement said.
The ministry said Al-Burhan was keen to have the meeting, and was ready to leave for Djibouti until they received the communication.
“…out of his keenness in his capacity as President of the Transitional Sovereignty Council and Commander of the Armed Forces [that they] must end the suffering of the Sudanese caused by the militia rebellion, he formally expressed his approval for the IGAD presidency to hold the meeting and was ready to leave for Djibouti this Wednesday evening,” the statement said.
“Reason, and its unwillingness to stop the destruction of Sudan and its people, and this is evident from its failure to attend tomorrow’s meeting”.
Once again, the January 4 meeting didn’t happen.