Ramaphosa calls for a permanent ceasefire in Sudan as SA nationals evacuated

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for those involved in the conflict in Sudan to immediately cease the violent activities.

President Ramaphosa was addressing a media briefing at the Union Buildings where he hosted his Finnish Counterpart President Sauli Niinistö on a State Visit.

The President said that through the African Union (UN) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), they will seek to make interventions to ensure that the conflict comes to an end.

“Nobody ever benefits from conflict, particularly violent conflict. It destroys lives and disrupts economies and the lives of ordinary people.

“It is for this reason that we insist and call upon those who are involved in this conflict to immediately cease the violent activities they are involved in. We call for peace and mediation…the only way the problem in Sudan can be resolved is through negotiation and mediation,” Ramaphosa said.

The President said that they were concerned about the dangerous situation a number of people are subjected to.

He said that South Africa like many other countries in the world, had to evacuate its citizens as well as assisting sister countries on the continent who have had people stranded in the conflict.

The President said that about 77 South Africans and nationals from countries such as Angola and Namibia along with other countries are now in Egypt.

“For us it is a dangerous moment for many people and we have had no choice but to go and lend assistance and get people out. We hope that they will be able to return back to South Africa and their respective countries,” he said.

Ramaphosa said that they were grateful that there is a small window or opportunity to be able to evacuate people during this “small ceasefire”.

He emphasised that in the end they want a situation where there is a permanent ceasefire and conflict must be brought to an end.

According to reports, tensions in Sudan erupted on 15 April during negotiations to integrate the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) into the country’s military as part of plans to restore civil rule and over 420 people have since been killed.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pulled no punches during a Security Council emergency session on Sudan this week calling the fighting in Sudan “an ongoing power struggle between top generals”.

He repeated an earlier demand to end fighting between troops loyal to Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) leader Fatttah al-Burhan and his deputy on the “so-called” Transitional Sovereign Council, Rapid Support Forces leader, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo “Hemedti”.

“It is incumbent on Sudanese leaders to put the interests of the Sudanese people front and centre,” Guterres said adding Sudanese “made their wishes clear. They want peace and restoration of civilian rule through the transition to democracy”. He, according to a UN statement, “urged all with influence and interests in restoring peace, to press the generals to return to the negotiating table”.

On UN operations in Sudan, Guterres said despite relocating staff to protect personnel and their families the world body is “committed to staying and delivering support”.

Volker Perthes, Guterres’ special representative in Sudan, told the Security Council fighting to date has claimed “at least” 450 lives with more than 3 700 injured. He called the statistics “conservative” and “almost certain to climb upwards”.

UN brokered ceasefire efforts of recent days were not entirely fruitless and, in the few hours of time negotiated during brief humanitarian pauses, “some respite” was gained with UN staff able to restart the lengthy journey to Port Sudan, he reported via video link.

On reports of some tribes and armed movements mobilising in Darfur and taking sides in the power struggle, Perthes said this was “dangerous and could draw in neighbouring countries”.

He claimed the generals behind the fighting – and responsible for it – continued to trade accusations and competing claims over territory won adding there is “no equivocal sign either is ready to seriously negotiate”.

“This suggests both think a military victory is possible” which Perthes said is “a miscalculation”.

“As fighting continues, law and order will break down further. Command and control will dissipate. Sudan could increasingly fragment with a devastating regional impact.”