CAIRO (Reuters) – Sudan’s army-aligned foreign ministry on Tuesday rejected a regional summit’s proposal to consider deploying peacekeeping forces to protect civilians, dashing tentative hopes the gathering might help efforts to end a near three-month-old war.
The violent power struggle between the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces since April 15 has killed more than 1,000 civilians and displaced 2.9 million, according to the United Nations.
Neither side has gained a clear advantage, and much of the capital has been abandoned or destroyed while mediation efforts thus far have failed.
The summit, held by East African regional body IGAD and attended by heads of states as well as representatives of several other countries and bodies, had suggested considering the deployment of regional peacekeeping forces and the further involvement of civilians in talks.
It represented the first such meeting in weeks, after a separate set of talks in Jeddah had been suspended by the United States and Saudi Arabia after numerous ceasefire violations.
The army had boycotted the IGAD mediation effort, accusing Kenya, which headed the effort, of providing a haven to the Rapid Support Forces.
“The disrespect of IGAD towards the opinions of its member states will cause the Sudanese government to re-think the utility of its membership in the organisation,” the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
“The Sudanese government rejects the deployment of foreign forces in Sudan and will consider them enemy forces,” it added.
The statement did welcome an upcoming summit held by Egypt, widely-seen as closer to the army than to the RSF, to be held later this week.
The IGAD summit, held in Addis Ababa, had featured American representatives, who in statements appeared to reject the prospect of future military rule in Sudan.
“Reaching a negotiated settlement does not – and cannot – mean returning to the status quo that existed before April 15,” said U.S. Ambassador John Godfrey.
(Reporting by Nafisa Eltahir and Khalid Abdelaziz, Editing by William Maclean)
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