On Monday, the Sudanese government refused to join a regional meeting aimed at ending three months of brutal fighting, accusing Kenya, the chair of the talks, of favoring the rival paramilitaries.
A power struggle between Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah Al Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) resulted in a war from mid-April that has killed thousands of people and displaced millions.
The East African regional bloc IGAD had invited the warring parties to a meeting in Ethiopia’s capital on Monday while fighting still raged across Sudan.
Neither Mr Al Burhan nor Mr Dagalo personally attended the talks in Addis Ababa. The RSF sent a representative to the “quartet” meeting led by Kenya, South Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia.
Since April 15, around 3,000 people have been killed in the violence, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, but the actual death toll is believed to be much higher as parts of the nation remain inaccessible.
Another three million people have been displaced internally or fled across borders, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
Multiple diplomatic initiatives to halt the fighting have produced brief respites, with the UN warning on Sunday that Sudan was on “the brink of a full-scale civil war, potentially destabilizing the entire region”.
Previous truce deals have been brokered by Saudi Arabia and the US, but the East African bloc has sought to take the lead.
However on Monday, Sudan’s foreign ministry said its delegation would not participate until its request to remove Kenya as chair of the talks was met.
The ministry had asked for “Kenyan President William Ruto (to) be replaced … in particular because of his partiality”.
In a communique released after Monday’s meeting, the quartet noted “the regrettable absence of the delegation of the Sudanese Armed Forces in spite of the invitation and confirmation of attendance”.
Mr Dagalo had sent a political adviser to the talks in Addis Ababa, while the RSF denounced “irresponsible behaviour” on the army’s part.
The quartet agreed to “mobilise and concentrate the efforts of all stakeholders towards delivering a face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the warring parties”, it said.
It also called on the rival generals to “immediately stop the violence and sign an unconditional and indefinite ceasefire”.
IGAD said it would request the African Union to look into possibly deploying the East Africa Standby Force – usually tasked with election observer missions – in Sudan “for the protection of civilians and … humanitarian access”.