Sudan army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan also called for rival Rapid Support Forces to be designated as ‘terrorists’.
Sudan’s army chief warned the United Nations that months of war in his country could spill over into the region, and he called for international pressure to be placed on the paramilitary forces he is fighting, including their designation as “terrorists”.
Army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, speaking at the UN following a string of foreign trips, called on the international community on Thursday to designate the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as a terrorist organisation and to target its sponsors outside Sudan’s borders – an allusion to ties with Russia’s Wagner mercenaries.
“The danger of this war is now a threat to regional and international peace and security as those rebels have sought the support of outlaws and terrorist groups from different countries in the region and the world,” Burhan said.
“This is like the spark of war, a war that will spill over to other countries in the region,” he said.
“Regional and international interference to support these groups is crystal clear by now. This means that this is the first spark that will burn the region, and will have a direct impact on regional and international peace and security,” he added.
Fighting broke out in Sudan on April 15 after the collapse of a plan to integrate the army and the RSF, led by Burhan’s former deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is known as Hemedti.
Both sides blamed the other for starting the war that erupted in the capital Khartoum and has spread to other parts of the country including the western region of Darfur, killing at least 7,500, according to reports, displacing more than five million people and threatening to destabilise the region.
At the UN, Burhan urged world powers to designate the RSF as “terrorists”.
“They have committed all sorts of crimes that give grounds for such a designation,” he said.
“Those who have supported killing, burning, raping, forced displacement, looting, stealing, torture, trafficking of arms and drugs, bringing mercenaries or recruiting children – all such crimes necessitate accountability and punishment.”
In a video message released on Thursday, shortly before Burhan spoke at the UN, RSF leader Hemedti said his forces were fully prepared for a ceasefire and comprehensive political talks to end the conflict.
“Today, we renew our commitment to the peaceful process to put a halt to this war,” Hemedti said.
“The RSF are fully prepared for a ceasefire throughout Sudan to allow the passage of humanitarian aid … and to start serious and comprehensive political talks,” he said.Previous assertions by the army and the RSF that they are seeking a solution to the conflict, as well as announcements of ceasefires by both sides, have failed to stop the bloodshed and the deepening of a humanitarian crisis in Sudan.
The United States earlier this month imposed sanctions on RSF leaders, including senior commander Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, the brother of the group’s leader, over alleged abuses including the killing of the governor of West Darfur.
The US and other Western powers have also been strongly critical of Burhan.
Alongside RSF leader Dagalo, Burhan in 2021 sidelined the civilian leadership that had been part of a transitional power-sharing deal following mass protests that brought down longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.
Burhan said on Thursday that he was “committed to our previous pledges to transfer power to the people of Sudan with great national consensus and consent”.
“The armed forces would leave politics once and for all,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and the US have tried to secure a lasting ceasefire in Sudan, but the process stalled amid parallel international initiatives in Africa and the Middle East.