Civilians flee East Darfur capital as tensions raise between army and RSF
November 19, 2023 (EL-DAEIN) – Escalating tensions between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in El Daein, the capital of East Darfur State, have driven many residents to flee the city in fear of impending bloodshed.
East Darfur is the only state in the Darfur region that has not witnessed military clashes between the two parties to Sudan’s conflict, thanks to a local agreement to prevent fighting.
However, El Daein, the historical capital of the Rizeigat tribe, from which most RSF soldiers and leaders hail, continues to send large numbers of fighters to battlefronts in the capital and other Darfuri cities. The city has also become a major commercial hub for the sale of cars and furniture allegedly looted from homes and stores in Khartoum and other cities.
Over the past month, the RSF has intensified its military operations in Darfur, seizing control of three army bases in South, West, and Central Darfur. The army maintains its positions in North and East Darfur.
A member of the mediation committee led by Rizeigat tribe leader Mahmoud Musa Madibo told Sudan Tribune that the committee, composed of civil leaders, youth figures, and Chamber of Commerce representatives, is working tirelessly to avert conflict in El Daein despite the RSF’s continued mobilization.
He revealed the RSF’s demands in the negotiations to prevent confrontation: either for the 20th Division army personnel to join the RSF, withdraw from the command headquarters and hand over the military site without fighting, or enter into a military confrontation and forcibly overthrow the division.
“A number of army soldiers and officers have begun withdrawing from the division’s command individually, while its commander insists on fighting and rejects all RSF conditions,” he added.
He explained that the RSF sent significant military reinforcements after a large force from South Darfur state arrived and stationed itself in Um Waragat, about 30 kilometres west of El Daein. This prompted residents of the Trucks, Khor Omar, and airport neighbourhoods to flee due to their proximity to the army command centre, located near the Al-Safa and Al-Rikada neighbourhoods.
The source indicated an agreement between the mediation committee and the RSF to deploy their forces around government headquarters, commercial banks, international organization headquarters, and the market to protect them in case of clashes between the two forces.
The RSF deputy leader Abdel Rahim Daglo recently voiced their determination to control El-Fasher of North Darfur and El-Daein of Eastern Darfur. However, the paramilitary forces face resistance from traditional leaders in the latter and are challenged by armed groups in North Darfur.
The RSF commanders in West and Central Darfur went to Jebel Asida in the Jebel Marra area and addressed a call for the holdout rebel leader Abdel Wahid al-Nur offering him to join them saying they to head to Port Sudan where the premises of the military-led government of Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.