A dissenting wing of an armed Sudanese rebel group dropped out of a peace process Thursday protesting the alleged human rights violations of the government’s chief negotiator.
Sudan’s transitional government signed a provisional peace deal with one wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) on Monday foreseeing its fighters being integrated into the army by November 2023.
But a rival faction led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu accused General Hamdan Dagalo, deputy chief of Sudan’s joint military-civilian sovereign council, of leading forces “committing heinous crimes against citizens,” in a statement on Thursday.
It said its negotiating team withdrew from the talks after complaining to mediators about Dagalo, without receiving a response.
Dagalo heads the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), long accused by human rights groups of committing widespread abuses in Sudan‘s vast western region of Darfur.
As a leading member of Khartoum’s transitional government, which took power after the army overthrew longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir last year, Dagalo has been holding talks in neighboring South Sudan with rebel groups that have yet to lay down their arms.
“We consider the RSF to be hostile towards citizens and peace. The RSF’s commander lacks impartiality and is unqualified in leading the negotiating team,” the statement by the SPLM-N splinter group said.
Khartoum’s transitional government has made peacemaking with the SPLM-N rebels — based in South Kordofan’s Nuba mountains and Blue Nile State — and other rebel factions, based in Darfur, one of its top priorities.
The rebel groups are largely drawn from non-Arab minority groups that have long railed against Arab domination.
Monday’s provisional peace deal, which has been rejected by Hilu, set out future security arrangements between Khartoum and the SPLM-N including a ban on the recruitment of child soldiers and disarmament of fighters.
Tutkew Gatluak, the talks’ chief mediator and an adviser to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, said earlier this week a comprehensive agreement between the Khartoum government and a total of four rebel groups would be signed on August 28.