Sudan Government Suspends Cooperation with IGAD, Stifling Potential Peace

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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Violation of Sovereignty 

The Sudanese government suspended cooperation with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African trade bloc, less than 48 hours before IGAD was set to hold a summit in Uganda partially aimed at ending the war in Sudan on January 18th.

Sudan’s foreign ministry announced the suspension on the 16th while accusing them of “violating Sudan’s sovereignty”.

Sudan’s government had already rejected its invitation to the summit after IGAD invited General Mohamed ‘Hemedti’ Hamdan Daglo, the head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which the government has been at war with for the past nine months.

A photo of RSF fighters in April of 2023 (Photo from AFP/Getty Images).

Sudan claimed the invitation was “a violation of Sudan’s sovereignty and a serious breach of the Igad Charter and the rules governing the work of international and regional organizations”.

They further accused IGAD of a series of violations, including holding the summit on Sudan in the first place, which they say they were not consulted on.

The meeting in Uganda was scheduled after a December IGAD summit on the war, to be hosted in Djibouti, was postponed citing “technical issues”. The December meeting was initially pushed back to “early January”, however no specific date was set until recently.

In contrast, Hemedti accepted IGAD’s invitation, and was planning to attend the IGAD summit.

Also on the agenda for IGAD’s meeting is the present issues between Ethiopia and Somalia after Ethiopia signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with the Somalian breakaway region of Somaliland to gain access to the Somaliland port of Berbera. In exchange for port access, Ethiopia will recognize Somaliland as independent and establish official diplomatic ties.

A Growing Presence

Hemedti has recently been gaining diplomatic prominence, alongside gains made by the RSF in Sudan. Last month Hemedti made his first trip outside the country when he made visits to various nations around Africa, meeting with national leadership.

Keen to deny the RSF any sense of international legitimacy, Sudan’s government has warned other African nations that meeting with Hemedti would be “making themselves a partner in the murder of the Sudanese people” by the RSF, who they referred to as “killers”.

Hemedti has previously signaled his willingness to engage in peace processes, including signing an “immediate” ceasefire, which Sudanese leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has largely rejected.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Sudanese military government (Photo from Getty).

Worsening Situation

The suspension of cooperation with IGAD is likely to put significant strain on attempted peace processes as several humanitarian organizations continue to raise alarms on the dire situation in the country.

18 million people in Sudan are facing acute hunger, of which five million are facing emergency levels of hunger. Over 75% of those in emergency hunger are largely unreachable by humanitarian organizations because of the heavy fighting throughout the country.

The UN has warned of a potential famine if the situation does not quickly improve.