Antony Blinken calls for immediate ceasefire in Sudan

At least 97 people killed and hundreds wounded as clashes spread across country

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has called for an immediate ceasefire in Sudan and a return to talks to put the country back on track to a civilian-led government.

At least 97 people have been killed and hundreds wounded as clashes have spread across Sudan since Saturday, when fighting erupted between army units loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s transitional governing Sovereign Council, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, who is deputy head of the council.

Speaking at the G7 foreign ministers’ summit in Japan, Blinken said: “There is a shared deep concern about the fighting, the violence that is going on in Sudan, the threat that that poses to civilians, that it poses to the Sudanese nation and potentially poses even to the region.

“There’s also a strongly held view across all of our partners on the need for an immediate ceasefire and a return to talks. Talks that were very promising in putting Sudan on a path to a full transition to civilian-led government.

“People in Sudan want the military back in the barracks, they want democracy, they want a civilian-led government. Sudan needs to return to that path.”

Standing alongside his US counterpart, the UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, said a return to negotiations was the “ultimate desired outcome” in Sudan.

He said: “We call upon an immediate cessation of violence, a return to the talks, talks which seemed to be heading in the direction of civilian government. That, of course, is the ultimate desired outcome.

“Ultimately the immediate future lies in the hands of the generals who are engaged in this fight. We call on them to put peace first, to bring an end to the fighting, to get back to negotiations.

“That’s what the people of Sudan want, that’s what the people of Sudan deserve. We will continue to seek ways to support that road back to peace.”

Cleverly added that his “first priority” was the protection of British citizens in Sudan and said the government would provide “what support we can” to them. The UK has previously changed its travel advice to warn against travel to Sudan.

This was the first such outbreak of fighting since the army and the RSF joined forces to oust the veteran Islamist autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The violence was sparked by a disagreement over the integration of the RSF into the military as part of a transition towards civilian rule to end the political-economic crisis sparked by a military coup in 2021.

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