On Thursday, the United States and African governments rushed to extend a truce in Sudan, with the Sudanese army announcing it had given an early OK to an African plan calling for negotiations despite intense fighting.
Hundreds of civilians have been murdered in over two weeks of fighting between the army and a rival paramilitary organization, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which is embroiled in a power battle that threatens to destabilize the area as a whole.
An RSF statement accused the army of attacking its forces on Thursday and spreading “false rumours”, making no reference to the proposal which the army said came from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an African regional bloc.
The sound of air strikes and anti-aircraft fire could be heard in the capital Khartoum and the nearby cities of Omdurman and Bahri, witnesses and Reuters journalists said.
The existing three-day ceasefire brought about a lull in fighting, without completely halting it, but is due to expire at midnight (2200 GMT).
Many foreign nationals remain stuck in Sudan despite an exodus marking one of the largest such evacuations since the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan in 2021. Sudanese civilians, who have been struggling to find food, water and fuel, continued to flee Khartoum on Thursday.
The army late on Wednesday said its leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, had given initial approval to the plan to extend the truce for another 72 hours and to send an army envoy to the South Sudan capital, Juba, for talks.
The military said the presidents of South Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti worked on a proposal that includes extending the truce and talks between the two forces, whose conflict derailed a transition to civilian democracy after a 2021 military coup.
“Burhan thanked the IGAD and expressed an initial approval to that,” the army statement said.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) restated its prior appeal for an immediate cease of hostilities, de-escalation, and a return to the negotiation table. The bloc’s statement made no mention of the Juba negotiations.
According to the State Department, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat discussed working together to put a stop to the conflict.