Sudanese Leader Sees Rwandan Model for Post-Conflict Sudan


“The war our country is experiencing today must be the last war.”

On 6 January, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the leader of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces (RSF) (a paramilitary force formerly overseen by the Government of Sudan which has since defected), known as “Hemedti,” wrote the excerpted post in Arabic language on X (formerly Twitter) about his trip to Rwanda to meet President Kagame, and visit the Genocide Memorial Museum in Kigali. Hemedti’s remarks about the trip framed his own objectives in Sudan as mirroring those he perceives Kagame has achieved in Rwanda. Hemedti stated that Rwandans faced their problems after their civil war and genocide with courage and found radical solutions, such as gacaca,[i] which Hemedti compared to judiya,[ii] or traditional mediation, in Darfur, Sudan. It appears Hemedti is open to an elder council in Sudan that would oversee conflict resolution in the country but, the council would ensure Hemedti’s paramilitary faction retaining power over the rival Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).[iii]

Hemedti was initially seen as the underdog in the conflict with the SAF, Sudan’s officially recognized Army. However, his fighters’ brutal guerilla warfare tactics, honed when they operated as the notorious janjaweed in Darfur in the 2000s, have outmaneuvered the more conventional SAF. Moreover, Hemedti’s and his fighters’ humble beginnings—at least until they began monopolizing gold and other resource-rich mines in Darfur—may have endeared them to sectors of the embattled Sudanese population, which views the SAF as hopelessly corrupt and elitist and a continuation of the now-defunct Islamist regimes of previous decades. Hemedti added during his visit to Kigala that the ongoing Sudanese civil war must be the country’s “last war” and the experiences of other countries, particularly Rwanda, where Kagame has remained in power since the end of the Rwandan civil war, could inform Sudan’s own next steps. Hemedti’s remarks come as the Arabic-language website of the British newspaper, The Independent, published the second excerpted article about the SAF’s rejection of an invitation to attend the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s East African Summit in Uganda, which would involve mediation between the SAF and RSF. The article notes the RSF would be negotiating with the SAF from a position of strength having continuously seized territory in Sudan. This may be why Hemedti has been touring Rwanda, among other East African nations, in anticipation of the RSF’s taking control of more parts of Sudan. Further, Hemedti is seemingly planning a Rwandan-style post-conflict transitional justice system in Sudan that, like with Rwanda’s Kagame, would see Hemedti remain in power for years to come.[iv]


 “زرت اليوم المتحف التذكاري للإبادة الجماعية بالعاصمة الرواندية كيجالي(Today I Visited the Genocide Memorial Museum in the Rwandan Capital, Kigali),” (@GeneralDagllo) (U.S social media website allowing users to freely post text, images, and videos known as “tweets”), 6 January 2024.

Today I visited the Genocide Memorial Museum in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. It is one of the most important landmarks in human history, because it witnessed a period of suffering and tragedy…. The Rwandans themselves faced their problems with courage and found radical solutions through the experience of gacaca, which is similar to judiya in Sudan. This system established the principles of transitional justice in society, realized the idea of no impunity, and changed history from division to unity.

We, Sudanese, must learn from Rwanda. The war our country is experience today must be the last war, and we must work to create a fair and sustainable peace for ourselves and for the future for our coming generations. 

“السودان يعلق وساطة “إيغاد” وسط احتدام المعارك” (Sudan suspends IGAD mediation amid increasing battles),” (Arabic-language website jointly administered by Media Arabia, and The Independent, which focuses on social and humanitarian evens in the Middle East) 16 January 2024.

The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Sudan has suspended its dealings with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) of East African Countries, which has mediated the months-long fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). IGAD offered to mediate between the army commanders and the RSF.


[i] “Gacaca” courts played a role in transitional justice in Rwanda following the 1994 genocide and were known for being community-based and for providing lighter sentences to perpetrators who showed remorse and repentance and sought reintegration into their communities.

[ii] “Judiya” has been the main mechanism for traditional mediation, reconciliation and justice in Darfur, Sudan, where “al-Jaweed,” or respected elders and traditional leaders, engage in third-party mediation with the approval of conflict actors. Although it is yet to be fully established in Darfur, advocates remain optimistic that it could bring a new sense of “humanitarian diplomacy” to that region, see: Yasir Elfatih Abdelrahim Elsanousi, “Traditional Judiya Leaders in Sudan as Actors of Humanitarian Diplomacy: Are They Eligible to Fulfill These Roles in the Darfur Humanitarian Crisis?,” Journal of African Studies and Development, Vol 3 (2), July 2017.

[iii] In Sudan, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), which are led by General Abd al-Fatah al-Burhan, are in conflict with Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitaries, which are led by “Hemedti.” When al-Burhan became the Sudanese leader after long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in 2019, he failed to rein in and incorporate Hemedti’s RSF into the SAF. This ultimately resulted in a power struggle when, in April 2023, al-Burhan called the RSF a “rebel” movement and formally dissolved it. The two military factions have been at war since then and have received backing from external powers, but as of early 2024, the RSF has the upper hand in the fighting. See: Andrew McGregor, “Gold, Arms, and Islam: Understanding the Conflict in Sudan,” Terrorism Monitor Volume: 21 Issue: 9 April 2023.

[iv] Besides Rwanda, Hemedti has also met with leaders in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Djibouti since the start of the war with the SAF in April 2023.

Image Information:

Image: RSF-fighters-cross-Hantoub-bridge-after-the-withdrawal-of-the-Sudanese-forces-on-December-18-2023
Source: The Sudan Tribune,
Attribution: CC x 2.0

Ukraine Launches Counteroffensive in Sudan and Across Africa To Minimize Russian Influence

Following its invasion by Russia, Ukraine is now launching a counteroffensive against Russian influence in Africa.

“Ukraine’s involvement in attacking Wagner forces in Africa signifies a limited yet noteworthy expansion of the Ukrainian conflict.”

While the diplomatic implications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine have been felt in Africa,[i] the security implications have been less so. That appears to be changing. As the first accompanying article from the Nigeria-based Military Africa monitoring site suggests, members of the Ukrainian special forces appear to have targeted members of the Russian Wagner Group operating in Sudan supporting the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). In April 2023, fighting erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary RSF, two groups that had previously worked together to oust Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir in 2019, and then led a subsequent military coup in 2021. As tensions between the two groups rose post-2021 coup, fighting broke out in the spring of 2023. Reporting has suggested that Wagner Group forces—which have been in Sudan since 2017 to support deposed President Al-Bashir—are now aiding the RSF, providing the faction surface-to-air missiles and other support. Notable is that Ukrainian special forces have taken their fight against Russia to Sudan, allegedly working with members of the SAF to attack the rival RSF/Wagner contingents in the country. As the article notes, other reporting has suggested that Ukrainian mercenaries not officially associated with the government may also be participating in fighting in Sudan on the side of the SAF. Indeed, this news from Sudan falls in line with Ukraine’s August 2023 pledge to radically revive Ukraine’s relations with African countries to lessen what one Ukrainian diplomat called Moscow’s “grip” on the continent based on “coercion, corruption, and fear.”[ii] Showing that the African continent is emerging as part of the broader landscape of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the second article from the Nigerian newspaper Premium Times describes how, even during its war, Ukraine plans to invest $25 million to create ten new embassies in Africa over the coming years, adding to the current eleven. Sudan is among the ten countries in which Ukraine plans to open a new embassy. Commenting on the opening of new Ukrainian embassies in Africa to counter Moscow, President Zelensky has noted: “We are not afraid of Russia’s presence in any African country.”


“Africa emerges as the new battleground between Russia and Ukraine,” Military Africa (Nigeria-based military news aggregator), 9 November 2023.

Recent reports suggest that Ukrainian special services may have played a role in a series of attacks against forces affiliated with Russia’s Wagner Group and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan, thousands of miles from the main theater of war.

But, since the outbreak of war in Sudan earlier this year, there have also been reported suspicions of Ukrainian mercenaries fighting on the side of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in their battle against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). This April, CNN reported that Wagner had supplied RSF paramilitaries with missiles.

Notably, the action didn’t occur within Ukraine’s borders, but rather against forces associated with Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) and the RSF….

The videos depict a special unit sniper of the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Directorate (GUR) conducting precision strikes on Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) forces in Sudan. This expands the theater of the Ukraine-Russia conflict into Africa, with Ukraine’s intelligence agency vowing to hunt down Wagner forces anywhere in the world…

Ukraine’s involvement in attacking Wagner forces in Africa signifies a limited yet noteworthy expansion of the Ukrainian conflict.

Chiamaka Okafor, “Ukraine to invest $25 million in establishing embassies in Africa,” Premium Times (Nigeria), (Lagos, Niger-based daily), 15 November 2023.

The Government of Ukraine on Wednesday said it is set to invest $25 million in establishing nine embassies in African countries. This was revealed by Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv while meeting with African journalists. He said the establishment of these embassies was a part of Ukraine’s African renaissance and rekindling its relationship with its African counterparts…

Ukraine, according to the prime minister, already has 11 embassies in Africa and is ready to open 10 more. Clarifying, he said plans to open an embassy in Ghana have already been finalised and not included in the $25 million budgeted for the other nine. The other nine countries include Sudan, Mozambique, Botswana, Mauritania, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and Tanzania.

According to the prime minister’s office, the plan to establish these embassies in Africa and other parts of the world had been developed in 2019 by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy until the war derailed the plans. Asked if he was concerned by the growing presence of Russia’s Wagner Group in Africa, he said, “We are not afraid of Russia’s presence in any African country…”He added that the presence of Wagner in any part of the world is a bad signal although “no third party will stop us from moving forward.”


[i] For more reading on the ways that Africa has responded to the Ukraine-Russia war, see: Jason Warner, “Morrocco Sending Military Equipment to Ukraine,” OE Watch, 02-2023.; Jason Warner, “African Stances on the Russia-Ukraine War Demonstrate Reliance on, Antipathy Toward West,” OE Watch, 09-2022.

[ii] For more on the August 2023 Ukrainian declaration of a revival of its relations with Africa to lessen Russia’s grip, see: “Ukraine announces a long fight against the “Russian hold in Africa,”, 17 August 2023.

Image Information:

Image: Following its invasion by Russia, Ukraine is now launching a counteroffensive against Russian influence in Africa.
Attribution: BY-SA 4.0