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Sudan fighting continues despite cease-fire for Eid al-Fitr holiday

The Rapid Support Forces announced a 72-hour cease-fire, following two other failed truces.
Muslim worshippers pray on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, at al-Hara al-Rabaa Mosque in the Juraif Gharb neighborhood, Khartoum, Sudan, April 21, 2023.

Another cease-fire was announced in Sudan on Friday. Fighting is continuing in the east African country, despite several attempts to negotiate an end to the hostilities.

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group, which is fighting Sudan's armed forces, announced a 72-hour cease-fire starting at 6 a.m. local time (12 a.m. ET). The group said the ceasefire would coincide with the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and open humanitarian corridors. The cease-fire was based on “international, regional and local understandings,” the RSF said on Twitter.

However, Agence France-Presse reported that heavy gunfire and explosions were heard in the capital Khartoum and other parts of the country following the cease-fire announcement.

Hatim Auyob, a political analyst in Khartoum, said the fighting continued throughout the morning.

“The cease-fire never really started,” Auyob told Al-Monitor.

Video obtained by the Sudanese news outlet Asharq News showed civilians gathering to celebrate Eid despite the fighting.

Later on Friday, the Sudanese armed forces likewise announced a three-day cease-fire beginning. However, the Sudanese armed forces later accused the Rapid Support Forces of violating the cease-fire. Reuters also reported that fighting continued in Khartoum following the armed forces' declaration. 

Background: Fighting broke out between the RSF and the Sudanese armed forces last Saturday. The violence followed tensions between RSF leader Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and de facto ruler of Sudan, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Sudan has suffered from political instability since the ouster of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Burhan seized power in a 2021 coup.

The RSF has its origins in the infamous Janjaweed militia that Bashir used to crush the rebellion in Darfur in the early 2000s. Both Burhan and Dagalo participated in the transitional government that formed following Bashir’s ouster.

Why it matters: More than 300 people have been killed in the fighting, while another 3,000 have been injured, according to the World Health Organization.

Previous cease-fire announcements have failed to stop the fighting. Two cease-fires were also called on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some in Sudan are still hopeful for a peaceful transition to democracy. Auyoub said the current conflict can be solved by "preserving the completion of the peaceful democratic transition in accordance with the Sudanese revolution," referring to the events of 2019. 

"Without that, the whole situation will collapse," he said. 

Know more: The US military is preparing forces in Djibouti for a potential evacuation of US Embassy personnel from Khartoum, Al-Monitor reported on Thursday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he discussed a cease-fire with the leaders of the military and the RSF on Thursday.

Editor's note: this article was updated to include information from the Sudanese armed forces on the cease-fire. 

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