World News Sudan suspends membership of IGAD regional bloc over 'sovereignty violation'

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Sunday, 21 January 2024

The government of Sudan has told the regional economic bloc IGAD that it is suspending its membership of the east African organisation over a communiqué Khartoum says compromises its sovereignty.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan pictured at a meeting in Saudi Arabia on 11 November 2023.
General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan pictured at a meeting in Saudi Arabia on 11 November 2023. © AFP PHOTO / HO/ SAUDI PRESS AGENCY
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Last week, Khartoum had already announced that it was freezing relations with IGAD for inviting paramilitary chief Mohamed Hamdan Daglo – at war with army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan for nine months – to a summit in Uganda that discussed the Sudan conflict.

According to the United Nations humanitarian agency, OCHA, Sudan "is facing one of the fastest unfolding crises globally," with more than 7.4 million people displaced and more than half the population needing humanitarian assistance.

The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project analyst group puts the death toll at more than 13,000.

IGAD open to mediate

In a statement released on Saturday, Sudan's foreign ministry said a letter had been sent to President Ismail Omar Guelleho of Djibouti, current chair of the bloc, "to inform him of the Sudanese government decision suspending its membership in this organisation".

At a summit on Thursday, IGAD reiterated its call for "an immediate and unconditional ceasefire" in the "unjust war affecting the people" of Sudan.

The bloc also expressed "continued readiness to offer its good offices to facilitate an all-inclusive peace process" and again called for a face-to-face meeting between the two sides.

A final communiqué from the extraordinary assembly gave the generals two weeks to meet.

Sudan's Burhan accuses bloc of 'violating sovereignty'

Sudan's foreign ministry said it was this item, placed on the agenda without Sudan's approval, which led it to the further step of suspending its membership.

The ministry also accused the IGAD communiqué of violating Sudan's sovereignty and "wounding the sentiments of victims of rebel militia atrocities", in reference to Daglo's Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Both sides have been accused of war crimes, including the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, torture and arbitrary detention of civilians.

The RSF has also been accused of ethnically motivated mass killings, rampant looting and rapes.

For its part, IGAD – in parallel with the United States and Saudi Arabia – has repeatedly attempted to mediate between the two warring generals, but to no avail.

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