The Sudanese army says a paramilitary force headed by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo has mobilised troops in the capital Khartoum and other cities – a move that raises the prospect of confrontation with the armed forces.
In a statement in the early hours of Thursday, the army said the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) was moving into the northern city of Marawi as well in a “clear violation of law” that risked creating more tensions and a security void as Sudan was going through what it described as a “dangerous juncture”.
The RSF said in a statement on Twitter that it deploys across the country as part of its duties and that its deployment to Marawi was part of its “national forces op
operating within the framework of the law, and in full coordination with the leadership of the armed forces”.
The RSF, which operates under a special law and has its own chain of command, is a powerful former militia that has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, especially during the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, climbed Sudan’s political ladder by serving under former leader Omar al-Bashir, under whom the forces were recognised in 2017. Al-Bashir was removed after a mass protest movement against him in 2019.
Hemeti is now deputy leader of Sudan’s ruling council, which took power after a coup by the army and RSF in late 2021. However, he has recently pulled away from military colleagues and found common ground with a civilian political alliance.
The army wants the integration of the RSF into it within a two-year transitional period. The RSF wants to fall under civilian leadership,” she said, adding that the army wants RSF forces and officers to be assessed before they are integrated.