Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, speaking in his first speech since the start of the brutal civil conflict, said the army is committed to a transition to civilian rule.
In a video message posted early Friday to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the general said: “We are confident that we will overcome this ordeal with our training, wisdom and strength, preserving the security and unity of the state, allowing us to be entrusted with the safe transition to civilian rule.”
In the Sudanese capital, the sounds of heavy fighting could be heard amid the call to prayer, and mosques were expected to hold morning services inside to protect worshippers.
The army chief’s remarks came as his rivals said they would implement a three-day ceasefire for the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, based on “international and regional agreements.”
According to the WHO, more than 330 people have been killed so far in the violent power struggle, which broke out last weekend between two previously allied Sudanese army leaders.
Khartoum was rocked by shelling and shelling and witnesses heard gunshots as the ceasefire and Eid morning prayers were due to start.
Reuters quoted residents as saying foot soldiers were deployed in some neighbourhoods, apparently indicating the army was preparing for more clashes.
“Ruin and destruction and the sound of bullets have left no room for the happiness that everyone in our beloved country deserves,” General Burhan said in the prerecorded speech, according to the Associated Press.
The video address was the first time General Burhan had been seen since fighting engulfed Khartoum and other areas of the country.
The fighting took place last Saturday between army units loyal to General Burhan and the paramilitary RSF led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, the deputy head of the council.
Although General Burhan’s army called for the dismantling of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which it described as a “rebel militia”, General Dagalo told the Al Arabiya satellite news network that he scrapped the negotiation and asked his counterpart to surrender.
RSF Sudan said it had agreed to a 72-hour truce on humanitarian grounds, starting at 6am (local time) on Friday. “The truce coincides with the blessed Eid Al-Fitr… to open humanitarian corridors to evacuate citizens and give them the opportunity to greet their families,” RSF said in a statement.
RSF said it had to act in “self-defense” to repel what it described as a coup attempt, adding that it is committed to a “complete ceasefire” during the armistice period. There was no immediate comment from the army chief, who did not mention a ceasefire in his speech.
A day earlier, the military ruled out negotiations with the RSF, saying they would only accept their surrender. The two sides continued fighting in central Khartoum and other parts of the country, threatening to derail international attempts to broker a longer ceasefire.
South Korea said Friday it had decided to send a military plane to evacuate its citizens from the country. Twenty-five South Korean citizens live in Sudan and are known to be safe, the Yonhap news agency reported.
India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who is in the US, reportedly sought the UN’s help in ensuring the safety of Indian citizens trapped in Sudan.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for a ceasefire to allow civilians to get to safety as thousands of residents poured out of Khartoum.
Large numbers also crossed into Chad to flee fighting in western Darfur.