IGAD’s Juba summit cancelled due to violence in Sudan

By William Madouk

The planned extraordinary meeting for IGAD’s Council of Ministers that was to be held in the capital Juba today, has been postponed till further notice due to ongoing fighting in neighboring Sudan.

Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, continued to be rocked by gunfire, loud explosions and airstrikes for a third day on Monday.

As of yesterday, the death toll of civilians who were killed by crossfire of gun battles in the streets, airstrike and bombardment has increased to 97.

In a statement seen by this outlet, the Acting minister of Foreign Affairs, Deng Dau said due to ‘unavoidable circumstances’ the IGAD summit is put on hold until further notice.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation wishes to inform the public that an extraordinary meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers scheduled for April 18, 2023, in Juba, South Sudan, has been canceled due to unavoidable circumstances,” Dau said.

Mr. Dau added that the new date for the meeting will be publicized after consultations with chair and secretariat of IGAD. 

“The new date will be announced accordingly in due course, following the consultations with the secretariat of IGAD and the chair of IGAD Council of Ministers,” he added.

Sudan is the current chair of the IGAD, however with ongoing fighting between Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) under Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo makes it impossible for the Sudan to participate in the meeting.

“The recent development in Sudan since the April 15th led to closure of Khartoum international airport. Due to that, Sudan as chair will not be able to participate in its full capacity in the above-mentioned meeting,” reads the statement of Sudanese Embassy in Djibouti.

Based on above matter, Sudan as a chair requested the postponement of the CoM extraordinary meeting, adding that the new date will be communicated in due course after the consultation meeting.

“The Embassy kindly requests the secretariat to circulate the above information to member-states,” the statement added.

The regional bloc was anticipated to meet in Juba today, April 18, 2023, to discuss regional issues including the sluggish revitalized peace agreement.

The head of Sudan’s army, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, ordered the dissolution of the RSF paramilitary on Monday, the country’s Foreign Ministry said.

The RSF emerged in 2013 from the Janjaweed militias that fought on behalf of the former Sudanese government in Darfur. It had been recognized as an independent security force and its leader served as Burhan’s deputy in the military junta.

The army and the RSF have been fighting since Saturday amid a long running power struggle between their two leaders.

Burhan also branded the RSF as a rebellious group, the Foreign Ministry said, after the RSF accused the army of being “radical Islamists.”

Hemeti — blamed three days of clashes on army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that there is a “shared deep concern” among allies toward the situation in Sudan.

Regional and international bodies and leaders have been calling on warring parties to ceasefire and restore to dialogue to address the matter.

Fighting erupted on Saturday after a weeks’long power struggle between Burhan and his deputy, Hemeti, who heads the RSF paramilitary.

The two leaders disagreed over the planned integration of the 100,000-strong RSF into Sudan’s regular army, which was key condition for the deal they struck after ousting Al Bashir. 

Sudan’s political situation has been tense since mass protests led to the ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

Burhan headed the Transitional Military Council that was supposed to usher in civilian elections. These plans were frozen when he and Hemeti staged the 2021 coup.

Earlier this month, Sudanese authorities indefinitely postponed a new agreement to hand over control to a civilian government.

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