Sudan’s military denies to participate in talks with paramilitary rival

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CAIRO (AP) The Sudanese military has suspended talks with militias that have been fighting for control of the country in northeastern Africa for weeks, an army spokesman said.

The development was a blow to the United States and Saudi Arabia, which mediate between the two sides. The conflict plunged Sudan into chaos.

Brigadier General Sudanese Armed Forces spokesman Nabil Abdallah told the Associated Press that the action was a “repeated move to a humanitarian ceasefire by rapid response forces, including the continued occupation of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure in the region’s capital.” He said it was a protest against violations.

At least 866 civilians were killed and thousands more wounded in the fighting, according to the Sudanese Medical Corps, which tracks civilian casualties. Medical groups have previously said the death toll could rise further. On May 21, the two sides signed a ceasefire agreement that provided for the provision of humanitarian assistance and the restoration of critical services destroyed in the conflict. They also agreed to stop looting of homes and humanitarian aid, as well as hijacking of civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and power plants.

Saudi Arabia and the United States were not immediately available for comment. Seven ceasefires have been declared so far, some of which have been violated.

Responding to the military move, the RSF said it “unconditionally supports the Saudi-US cooperation initiative.”

Two other senior military officials said the military had sent letters to Saudi and U.S. mediators detailing what they accused of RSF violations. They said the military delegation was still at the meeting grounds in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah.

An official said the decision was due to an effort by mediators to move to the next stage of negotiations without “fulfilling the terms” of a humanitarian ceasefire. This phase will include a long-term ceasefire and the start of negotiations to resolve disputes between the two sides, he said.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

On Tuesday, the military released a video showing Mr Burhan inspecting the army. The commander-in-chief warned that the army would resort to “all-out lethal force” if the RSF did not “response to the voice of reason.” Military aircraft also flew over the capital.

Meanwhile, locals reported clashes in parts of Khartoum and the neighboring city of Omdurman late Tuesday.

Both sides exchanged accusations of violating the Armistice Agreement.

The military move comes two days after the two sides agreed to extend the precarious ceasefire for another five days after Washington and Riyadh expressed impatience over continued ceasefire violations.

In a joint statement on Sunday, the United States and Saudi Arabia called on both sides for specific violations of the one-week ceasefire, rather than reiterating general compliance. The statement said the RSF was occupying people’s homes and confiscating property while the military continued to carry out airstrikes. Fuel, funds, supplies and vehicles from humanitarian aid convoys were stolen, the newspaper said, with the theft occurring in both military and RSF controlled areas.

The fighting caused widespread destruction in Khartoum and neighboring cities Omdurman and residential areas in Bari. Local residents reported storms and looting of their homes, mostly by the RSF. Many people posted photos and videos of looted homes on social media, condemning the looting.