James Snell

Sudan’s dreams of democracy appear to be over

Smoke billows above residential buildings in Khartoum (Credit: Getty images)

Fighting is raging once again in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, where a power struggle between rival factions has claimed the lives of hundreds of people. Around 185 people have been killed and more than 1,800 injured in the wake of an attempted coup.

A US diplomatic convoy came under fire yesterday and the EU’s ambassador in Sudan, Aidan O’Hara, was reportedly assaulted at his home. Journalists have been detained and beaten up by soldiers for breaking newly-imposed curfews. Across Sudan, international agencies, non-governmental organisations and charities are scrambling for a solution to prevent further bloodshed.

Military aircraft have flown low over urban centres and engaged targets on the ground. Residents in Khartoum are terrified of the eruption of what feels like a war within what is normally a peaceful city. Gunfire has been heard on state TV, presumably taking place within the building.  

The fighting continues, with very little sense – at least outside the country – what is going on and who is winning

A contest appears to be shaping up between the country’s regular army – which is effectively a military junta – and a paramilitary force called the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), whose leader, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, was supposed to be a figure in the current military regime: a council of officers, led by the army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. But the council, it seems, has been dissolved. 

This feels a little like a traditional military coup, where the aims are to capture state TV, the national leader’s residence, and so on. It has, however, hit a few snags.  

The RSF announced – even crowed about – its capture of Egyptian soldiers, who were arrested and photographed blindfolded and in custody in Merowe, between Khartoum and the Egyptian border. The RSF has said it will return the troops, but already the damage is done: Egypt has a large military and a strongman leader; it won’t be happy that some of its visiting personnel were detained. Whether

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