Sudan Severs Ties: Envoy Recalled in Protest over Ruto’s Meeting with Hamdan Dagalo
Diplomatic tensions flared between Sudan and Kenya on Thursday as Khartoum abruptly recalled its ambassador from Nairobi, a stark response to President William Ruto’s meeting with a controversial Sudanese figure. The move signifies a growing rift between the two nations over the ongoing conflict in Sudan and the role of paramilitary forces.
At the heart of the dispute lies General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, nicknamed “Hemedti,” the commander of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Accused of human rights abuses in Darfur and elsewhere, Hemedti remains a polarizing figure within Sudan and a source of friction with neighboring countries. His recent visit to Kenya, where he was hosted by President Ruto, ignited a diplomatic firestorm.
Sudan’s official statement, delivered by acting Foreign Minister Ali Al-Sadiq, declared the ambassador’s recall “for consultations in protest of the official reception organized by the Kenyan government for the commander of the rebel militia.” He went further, stating that these consultations would “cover all possibilities for the outcome of Sudan’s relations with Kenya.” The language leaves little doubt about Khartoum’s displeasure with Ruto’s decision.
Analysts have interpreted Sudan’s reaction as a direct rebuke to Kenya’s apparent willingness to engage with Hemedti, seen as a rival to Sudan’s current transitional government led by General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan. Al-Burhan and Hemedti have been at odds since a power struggle erupted within the Sudanese military in April 2023.
Kenya, however, defended its decision to host Hemedti. A Kenyan government spokesperson clarified that the meeting was part of “routine diplomatic engagements” aimed at “promoting regional peace and stability.” They emphasized that Ruto “met with other regional leaders” during Hemedti’s visit, suggesting a broader diplomatic context.
Despite Kenya’s explanation, the ambassador’s recall and Sudan’s stark language indicate a significant rupture in relations. The implications for regional stability and ongoing efforts to broker peace in Sudan remain unclear. Whether Kenya’s engagement with Hemedti can serve as a bridge or further exacerbate tensions is a question that hangs heavy in the air.