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Deng Dau Deng, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs talking to journalists on Saturday in his ministry.

South Sudan says engaging Sudanese warring parties to cease hostilities

South Sudan said on Sunday that it is engaging the warring parties in Sudan to cease hostilities following outbreak of clashes on Saturday between the Sudan army (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Deng Dau Deng, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said President Salva Kiir Mayardit was in close contact with Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the head of the Sudan Sovereign Council and his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemedti) who leads the RSF.

“Our President is working with leaders of Sudan so that we will be able to assist stability and restoration of peace in Sudan,” Deng said in an interview in Juba.

Deng disclosed that the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Heads of State convened a zoom meeting over the weekend to discuss the conflict in Sudan.

“We are calling for ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, and a return to the table of dialogue,” he added. 

At least 56 people and more than 590 have been wounded during the clashes between the two sides, according to Reuters news agency.

South Sudan mediated the 2020 Juba peace agreement which was signed by the Sudan transitional government led by Abdel Fattah Al –Burhan, and several armed opposition groups in Juba to end decades of conflict.

Deng said this peace deal is still alive, despite the ongoing deadly clashes in Khartoum and other places in Sudan.

“It (peace deal) is not affected; we are still working so that we resume the responsibilities of peace in Sudan,” he said.

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the Minister for Presidential Affairs called for speedy commencement of talks between the warring parties. In addition, he urged the parties including, civilian political forces in Sudan to play positive role by joining efforts of ending this crisis peacefully.

The latest conflict capped the days of escalating tensions between the two main military forces in Sudan, which has been grappling with a political crisis since October 2021.

The two sides traded accusations of initiating the conflict. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, commander of the Sudanese Army, accused the RSF of attacking sovereign headquarters in Khartoum, including his own residence in the Army General Command.

In a telephone interview with the Qatari Al-Jazeera TV channel, Al-Burhan stated that “the Rapid Support Forces are the ones who attacked our headquarters,” adding he was taken by surprise when the RSF attacked his house at 9:00 a.m. (0700 GMT).

In response, RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo told Al-Jazeera that the army is the one who started the attack. The RSF also announced that it had taken control of the presidential palace, a strategic guesthouse within the army’s headquarters, and the Khartoum International Airport in the capital.

The RSF also claimed to have seized control of Merowe and El-Obeid airports, as well as other strategic sites in the states, according to a statement released earlier on Saturday.

However, the Sudanese army denied that the RSF had taken control of any sovereign sites, stating that “all sites are under the control of the armed forces. The Rapid Support Forces use psychological warfare based on misinformation.”

Videos posted on social media showed the Sudanese army targeting the headquarters of the RSF in Khartoum with warplanes, but Dagalo denied that the headquarters of his forces had been destroyed by the Sudanese army.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s Civil Aviation Authority announced the suspension of flights at Khartoum International Airport after clashes broke out inside the airport, damaging two planes, one belonging to Saudi Airlines and the other to the United Nations.

Various countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Iran have issued statements urging Sudan’s conflicting parties to exercise restraint, prioritize dialogue, and protect civilians. The Egyptian Armed Forces have also called for the safety of their forces training in Sudan.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit has called for an immediate halt to the armed clashes, expressing shock and condemnation, and stressing the responsibility of the warring parties to protect the security and safety of Sudanese civilians.

The tension between the two military forces has escalated since Wednesday in the Merowe region in northern Sudan, after the RSF moved military vehicles to a location near the military air base there, a move that the army considered illegal.

Deep differences have emerged between the Sudanese army and the RSF, particularly regarding the latter’s integration into the army as stipulated in a framework agreement signed between military and civilian leaders on December 5, 2022.

Credit: Xinhua News Agency contributed to this Article.

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