Nairobi, Kenya — Nearly a month since armed conflict began between rival factions of the military government of Sudan, efforts by the international community to broker a truce in the country have failed as both parties repeatedly violated three cease-fire agreements. But leaders in East Africa say they will bar military rule in the region.
Speaking in Nairobi on Tuesday, Kenyan President William Ruto said Sudan had already made progress toward governance and that East Africa leaders would not allow what he termed a small disagreement to destroy those gains. He also said the soldiers would be held accountable.
“They have absolutely no reason to destroy people’s businesses, people’s livelihoods, cause unnecessary chaos and mayhem, when the quarrel can be solved by dialogue or conversation,” he said. “And we are determined to stop our continent from sliding into military rule. The continent is ready, and we are prepared to build our democratic institutions and get the people of this continent to choose the government they want.”
Experts such as Macharia Munene, an analyst on international relations in Kenya, say that despite its failure to end conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the East African Community regional bloc stands a chance to persuade Sudan’s military to end fighting because it is in the military’s interest, as the country itself hopes to become an EAC member.
“Concerted effort is what is needed,” he said, urging anyone with connections to Sudanese army chief General Abdel Fattah Burhan or General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, to “use those avenues to point out that it is in their interest to stop killing each other, and to convince the leaders that they do not want to be perpetual pariahs in the region.”
The fighting has left 400 people dead and has displaced more than 800,000 people since erupting on April 15, according to the United Nations. Each military faction has defended its stance.
Nick Westcott, director of the Royal African Society, sees the conflict as a chance for the East African region to move past failures in the DRC independently and persuade warring soldiers to lay down their arms.
Westcott pointed to MONUSCO, the U.N. peacekeeping force in the DRC. The EAC force sent to DRC “was complementary to that, and its presence was agreed [upon] by various parties involved, particularly Kinshasa authorities,” he said. “In Sudan, there is no existing authority and no agreement on any party that they should be the force coming for peace, not at this stage.”
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development agreed last week to send South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, Kenya’s Ruto and Ismail Omar of Djibouti to help broker a cease-fire in Sudan. Sudan’s former colony brokered the latest cease-fire, and Munene said it was in Kiir’s interest that Khartoum end its war because of his dependence on the port for trade.
“Being a landlocked [country], you know, it is an oil-producing country, and the oil goes through Khartoum to the Red Sea,” he said. “So South Sudan is hurting.”
Kiir on Tuesday said he’d held separate telephone conversations with Burhan and Dagalo, both of whom agreed to send representatives to talk.