East Africa: Sudan Govt Snubs IGAD After Hemedti Invited to Summit

Port Sudan / Amsterdam — The government of Sudan has suspended cooperation with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), after it included discussions on the situation in Sudan on the agenda of its upcoming 42nd Extraordinary Summit, scheduled to take place tomorrow in the Kampala, the capital of Uganda.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is suspending all engagement with IGAD. This decision follows IGAD’s “intrusive” inclusion of the situation in Sudan “without prior consultation”, and its invitation of Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander, Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo, to the summit.

According to the statement, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali El Sadig “conveyed the Sudanese government’s decision to suspend cooperation with IGAD” to his Djiboutian counterpart, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, who serves as the chairperson of the IGAD Council of Ministers.

The foreign ministry expressed discontent at “IGAD’s transgression” by adding the situation in Sudan to the 42nd Extraordinary Summit’s agenda, adding that IGAD “acted without prior consultation with the government of Sudan”.

Additionally, the Ministry criticised the Summit’s decision to invite “militia leader” Hemedti, commander of the RSF, deeming it a “dangerous precedent”.

“The Ministry considers this move a violation of Sudan’s sovereignty and a serious breach of the IGAD charter and its governing rules”, the statement asserts.

‘Acting in haste’

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, former Sudanese ambassador Abdelrahim Siddig says he believes that Sudan is “acting in haste” by severing ties with IGAD. “A more suitable and effective approach, considering that Sudan is an IGAD member, would have been to refrain from cutting ties and to instead request IGAD to clarify the role Hemedti will play in the upcoming summit.”

Siddig emphasised that the Sudanese government and IGAD need to engage in diplomatic efforts to clarify “whether Hemedti’s is invited to attend the entire summit or to discussions related to the situation in Sudan”.

If Hemedti’s participation is at summit level, the former ambassador said, the government had the right to reject it, “as he [Hemedti] neither represents the government nor holds an official status that allows him to participate.

“If, however, Hemedti’s involvement was related to discussing Sudanese issues within the framework of measures taken at IGAD’s 41st Extraordinary Summit in December”, including a proposed meeting between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Commander-in-Chief Abdelfattah El Burhan and RSF Commander Hemedti, “such participation would be very appropriate”.

Regarding what the Foreign Ministry statement described as the “intrusive inclusion” of Sudan on the summit agenda, Siddig explained that “like all international and regional organisations, IGAD has provisions and rules for their work procedures, and internal procedures that govern their work”.

“If these measures permit the invitation of parties to the Sudanese crisis for engagement in resolving the issue, acceptance becomes imperative. Rejection, unless grounded in the organisation’s rules and foundations, lacks a valid basis.”

Addressing whether it is possible for IGAD to proceed in discussing the Sudan issue, the former ambassador emphasised that the objective of any organisation’s steps, procedures, and communications is not solely to address the issue and announce it in the media. “Instead, these actions are linked to achieving tangible results and determining the direction they will take. If a party is unwilling to cooperate, the outcomes of the procedures and efforts become futile.”

Siddig did not dismiss the possibility of the war file in Sudan returning to the Jeddah platform, “as it remains an ongoing process”. He believed there was no indication to suggest that the IGAD platform is the exclusive venue for these discussions.

“If anything, the calls issued by the IGAD summit aimed at creating a link between all efforts, including the Jeddah platform and the IGAD initiative.”

Tense relations

Relations between the Sudanese government and several IGAD countries have been strained since the outbreak of the war between the army and the RSF.

In June 2023, Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, chaired by El Burhan, declared that Kenya, an IGAD member, is not neutral and is home to RSF rebel leaders.”

Following the IGAD session on Sudan in Djibouti on December 9, in which member states agreed to redouble efforts for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing war between the SAF and the RSF, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied El Burhan’s agreement to meet with Hemedti without conditions, stating that content of the communiqué “was not based on consensus nor legally binding.”

Another challenge facing IGAD’s role is the official reception and hospitality received by Hemedti during his Africa tour, in which he was hosted by the heads of four IGAD member states, including chairperson Ismail Guelleh, the President of Djibouti.

In an address to the Sudanese people on December 31, Sudan’s junta leader Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan lashed out at countries that received Hemedti on his current tour, accusing them of “partnering in the crimes committed by these murderers”.

On January 4, acting FA Minister Ali El Sadig announced that Sudan summoned the Kenyan ambassador to protest against the official reception of Hemedti by the Kenyan president.

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