Sudan's RSF leader announces Eid ceasefire, vows probe of his forces

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo speaks during a press conference at Rapid Support Forces headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, Feb. 19, 2023. [Reuters]

The leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces announced a brief cease-fire starting Tuesday for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo also said he would hold his forces accountable for violations against civilians since the current conflict broke out with Sudan's military. But analysts are skeptical after numerous failed cease-fires and note Dagalo's poor record on rights violations. Multiple cease-fires have been broken in the conflict between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces that began April 15.

Dagalo, known also as Hemedti, announced the 48-hour cease-fire for al-Adha festivities from Tuesday through Wednesday, in an audio message. Army chief General Abdel Fattah Burhan also announced a cease-fire Tuesday.

In an audio address provided to VOA by the Al Hadath TV channel, Hemedti declared a two-day unilateral truce, honoring the Muslims Adha festivity.

He said his forces will remain in their position and will act only in self-defense.

Hemedti noted the unilateral cease-fire shows the commitment of his forces to end fighting and end the suffering of civilians.

He said it was his wish that these days will be used for a genuine forgiveness and reconciliation among the people. He cited a deep feeling for the people, who are suffering and going through harsh humanitarian situations because of the ongoing fighting, which has affected their livelihoods. He said they are determined to end this war hopefully strong and united once again.

However, the RSF commander expressed concern about alleged human rights violations committed by his forces against civilians.

Fighting reported in Sudan after start of latest ceasefire

He announced the establishment of field courts headed by Major General Esam Saleh Fidhel to carry out investigations into claims of offenses allegedly committed by the RSF.

He said the violations are against RSF law and the instructions of its senior leadership.

"We are going to address them firmly and seriously," he said. "I am here, sincerely assuring our people that we reject and condemn any violation against civilians, including those believed to have been committed by our RSF forces."

VOA contacted Al Tahir Abu Hajah, the head of media and information in the office of Sovereign Council Chairman and army chief Abdel-Fattah Burhan, for comment on the report, but there was no immediate response from Hajah.

Speaking to VOA on Tuesday, Mohammed Khaleel, a retired military officer and a lecturer of international relations at various Sudanese universities, downplayed the unilateral cease-fire announced by the RSF.

Khaleel said the cease-fire is meant to please the international community, and civilians will still experience looting of their property, theft and intimidation.

Khaleel also said he doesn't think the cease-fire is meant for civilians because civilians have left their houses and their property is being looted by the RSF and sold cheaply in local markets in RSF-controlled areas within Khartoum and elsewhere.

The U.N. says about 2.5 million people have been displaced inside Sudan or forced to leave the country since the onset of the latest conflict on April 15.