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Sudan Factions OK 24-Hour Cease-Fire


FILE: Smoke rises in Khartoum, Sudan, on Sun. June 4, 2023.

Sudan's warring parties have agreed to a 24-hour cease-fire from Saturday, according to a joint statement by U.S. and Saudi mediators who have brokered previous abortive truces.

"Representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to a 24-hour countrywide cease-fire beginning on June 10 at 0400 GMT," said the statement released by Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry on Friday.

The Saudi and U.S. mediators said they "share the frustration of the Sudanese people about the uneven implementation of previous cease-fires".

"If observed, the 24-hour cease-fire will provide an important opportunity...for the parties to undertake confidence-building measures which could permit resumption of the Jeddah talks," the statement said.

"Should the parties fail to observe the 24-hour cease-fire, facilitators will be compelled to consider adjourning" talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah which have been suspended since late last month, the mediators statement added.

Multiple cease-fires have been agreed to but then broken, and Washington has slapped sanctions on the two warring generals, blaming both sides for the "appalling" bloodshed.

Friday's announcement comes a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he held discussions on Sudan with top Saudi officials.

In an interview with VOA Thursday, Yousif Eizzat, RSF’s political adviser, expressed no confidence in a Jeddah-led resolution to Sudan’s conflict.

Eizzat said the RSF is not ready for talks with their rivals.

"There’s no negotiation with them (the Sudanese government). And those who want to continue on, it's because they're from the old regime and they want to come back to power," Eizzat said. "They want the RSF to sit with them as a government and the RSF as rebels and that will never happen," he added.

Prior to Friday’s cease-fire announcement, fighting between Sudan’s rivals intensified as the two forces, commanded by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces led by Gen. Mohammad Dagalo, battled over a military industrial complex in southern Khartoum that was under the SAF's control.

Eizzat said the RSF captured the ammunition depot and controls over 95% of Khartoum.

"RSF are controlling 90 percent of Khartoum, and maybe today (Thursday) after controlling the military industry, it’s almost like 95%. That’s the current situation on the group," Eizzat said.

Witnesses reported hearing clashes on Friday near the Yarmouk weapons manufacturing and arms depot complex in Khartoum, from where plumes of smoke were seen rising for a second successive day.

Air strikes were also carried out in eastern parts of the capital and the sound of anti-aircraft guns was heard.

Those unable to leave have been forced to camp out for weeks as supplies of food and other vital goods run low.

Entire districts of Khartoum no longer have running water, mains electricity is only available for a few hours a week and three-quarters of the hospitals in combat zones are not functioning.

Information for this report came from Agence France-Presse. VOA's John Tanza contributed.