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IGAD seeks summit to deploy regional force in Sudan

July 11, 2023 at 12:15 pm

William Ruto, President of Kenya (F-L) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali (F-R) attend an Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) meeting for the resolution of the crisis in Sudan in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on July 10, 2023 [State House of Kenya/Anadolu Agency]

An eastern African bloc yesterday called for a regional summit to consider deploying troops to Sudan to protect civilians, three months after violence erupted between the army and a paramilitary faction, Reuters reported.

Fighting that erupted on 15 April in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, has spread to other parts of the country and driven more than 2.9 million people from their homes.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), made up of eight states in and around the Horn of Africa, met in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to kick-start a peace process for the conflict in Sudan.

But the initiative faced a setback as a delegation from Sudan’s army failed to attend after rejecting Kenya’s president as head of the committee facilitating the talks.

IGAD said in a statement it had agreed to request a summit of another regional body, the ten-member Eastern Africa Standby Force, “to consider the possible deployment of the EASF for the protection of civilians and guarantee humanitarian access.”

Sudan is a member of both bodies, as are Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda.

Diplomatic efforts to halt fighting between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have so far proved ineffective, with competing initiatives creating confusion over how the warring parties might be brought to negotiate.

IGAD said it regretted the absence of a delegation from the Sudan army, which it said had previously confirmed its attendance.

READ: Sudan witnessing ‘most brutal’ civil war: UN emergency relief coordinator