Sudanese at risk of partition, political coalition warns

Drone video shows smoke rising over Sudanese city near Khartoum

CAIRO (Reuters) - Sudan's main civilian political grouping warned on Friday that the country could be split and enter a protracted civil war if rival military factions that have been fighting for five months form competing governments.

The statement by the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) came after the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, threatened to set up a governing authority in areas under the control of his forces.

The FFC said in a statement that threats by both sides to form a government were "an extremely dangerous issue that will result in the partition and division of the country" and could lead to a "comprehensive civil war".

Since the outbreak of war between the RSF and Sudan's army on April 15 the RSF has controlled swathes of the capital Khartoum, as well as areas of south-west and central Sudan. Another faction that has clashed recently with the army, Abdelaziz al-Hilu's SPLM-N, controls large parts of South Kordofan state.

The army remains in control in other parts of the country, including the eastern Red Sea city of Port Sudan, to which some government officials and international agencies have relocated.

In an audio message released late on Thursday, Hemedti raised the prospect that the RSF could establish a government in Khartoum, warning that any move by the army to form a caretaker government in Port Sudan would split the country.

Last month, a senior figure in Sudan's Sovereign Council, headed by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said a caretaker government was needed.

The army, RSF and FFC shared power after long-ruling leader Omar al-Bashir was overthrown during a popular uprising in 2019. The army and the RSF staged a coup in 2021, before falling out over a planned transition to elections under a civilian authority.

Fighting between the two factions has caused a humanitarian crisis in Sudan, which now has more internally displaced people than any other country.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 4.1 million people have been displaced internally since April, while over 1.1 million have fled to neighbouring countries.

(Editing by Andrew Heavens)