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Sudan Tribune

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Sudan dissolves paramilitary RSF, abolishes its controversial law

RSF leader Hemetti surrounded by his fighters in Khartoum on 18 may 2019

RSF leader Hemetti surrounded by his fighters in Khartoum on May 18, 2019.

September 6, 2023 (PORT SUDAN) – Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Chairman of the Sudanese Sovereign Council and Commander-in-Chief of the Army, issued two decisions on Wednesday, formally dissolving the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and abolishing the RSF Law of 2017.

Already on two days after the outbreak of the conflict on April 17, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry announced al-Burhan’s decision to dissolve the RSF and categorize it as a rebel force. Also, the military-led government took further measures, including suspending the salaries of its troops.

However, on Wednesday, the Sovereignty Council issued two separate statements stating that Al-Burhan issued two constitutional decrees that officially dismantled the paramilitary forces and revoked the controversial RSF Law.

The decrees instructed the General Command of the Armed Forces, the General Secretariat of the Sovereign Council, and other relevant bodies to implement the decisions.

The Sovereign Council accused the RSF of rebelling against the state, committing severe human rights violations against civilians, and deliberately damaging the country’s infrastructure. It emphasized that these actions violated the objectives and principles outlined in the 2017 RSF Law.

These decisions coincide with individual sanctions imposed by the U.S. administration against the RSF’s second-in-command, in response to the human rights violations and crimes committed by the forces against civilians since the onset of the conflict.

The RSF has long maintained its legitimacy based on a 2017 law enacted by the parliament loyal to ousted President Omar al-Bashir. This law dictated that the RSF’s role was to support the Sudanese army and subject it to the Armed Forces Law but to be under the direct command of the President of the Republic and Commander in Chief of the army.

In July 2019, following the fall of the Bashir regime, the Transitional Military Council, headed by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, made substantial amendments to the law. These changes removed Article 5, which classified the RSF as governed by the Armed Forces Law, effectively making it an independent force separate from the army.

In response to these decisions, the RSF asserted that Abdel Fattah al-Burhan lacked the constitutional and legal legitimacy to disband the force. In statements to Sudan Tribune, A senior RSF official contended that it was al-Burhan who had breached the law and was now exercising authority beyond his jurisdiction.

The RSF forces fight against the Sudanese army in Khartoum and various states in the Darfur and Kordofan regions.

Sudan Tribune obtained a confidential circular from the Bank of Sudan dated September 6, instructing the seizure of funds and assets belonging to 22 companies affiliated with the RSF. This follows al-Burhan’s earlier decision on May 14 to freeze the RSF’s banking accounts across the country and their branches abroad.

On May 19, al-Burhan removed RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo Hemedti from the position of Vice Chairman of the Sovereign Council, appointing Malik Agar, head of the SPLM-N, as his replacement.