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The head of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, has told Al Jazeera that he will not sit down and talk with his chief rival, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, as fighting continues in Sudan, despite repeated attempts at a ceasefire between the RSF and the Sudanese army.

“We are calling for a humanitarian truce and for a ceasefire for a specific period, but the other side does not want that,” Hemedti said in a phone call with Al Jazeera on Thursday. “But we are not talking about sitting down with a criminal. We have been negotiating [with al-Burhan] for two years, without any results.”

“Al-Burhan was the one who started the battles and he is the one responsible for murdering the Sudanese people, so there are no future negotiations with him,” he added.

Hemedti said that he had “no objection” to a truce over the upcoming Eid holiday, but claimed that the army had continued attacking his forces despite a ceasefire that was supposed to be observed from 16:00 GMT on Wednesday evening.

The army has also accused the RSF of breaking the ceasefire.

Eid will begin on either Friday or Saturday.

For its part, the Sudanese army also rejected on Thursday calls for negotiations, and said that it would only accept the surrender of the RSF, which it has labelled a rebellious force.

Fighting in Sudan between the army and the RSF has continued for a sixth day, with more than 300 people killed, including many civilians.

Residents of Khartoum have been fleeing the capital, hoping to reach safer areas.

Despite international mediation efforts, there are few signs of de-escalation.

Both the Sudanese army and the RSF have been accused of human rights violations during the fighting, and in the months preceding the conflict, when the two sides united to launch a military coup against a transitional government in October 2021, and cracked down on the protests that followed.

Internationally mediated talks to transition the country back to civilian rule were reportedly in their final stages, but a dispute about the integration of the RSF into the army sparked the recent outbreak of fighting.

In his interview, Hemedti attempted to portray himself as a supporter of a democratic transition in Sudan, despite his forces being repeatedly accused of arresting and killing protesters calling for democratic rule.

“We are defending the realisation of a true democratic transition in the country,” Hemedti said. “The only key to resolving the conflict in Sudan right now is bringing al-Burhan to justice.”

In response to Hemedti’s comments, the former commander of the Sudanese navy, Fath al-Rahman Mohiuddin, said that the RSF was to blame for the fighting.

“Hemedti’s words to Al Jazeera are strange. The Rapid Support Forces are the ones who started the conflict, and they turned into rebels,” Mohiuddin told Al Jazeera. “If the army had started the clashes, we would not have been shocked by them.”

“The leadership of the Rapid Support Forces cannot communicate its orders to its members because it is out of control. This is what breaks the truce every time.”

Hemedti has attempted to shift international perceptions of his image. He first emerged in Sudan as a leader in the government-backed Popular Defence Forces (called “Janjaweed” by rebel groups) accused of human rights violations in Darfur. The RSF later emerged out of the Popular Defence Forces during the presidency of former President Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown after protests in 2019.

The RSF has used international public relations firms to portray itself as a defender of Sudanese civilians and a barricade against religious hardliners in recent months, and has taken to publishing statements in English on social media, decrying the army.

Hemedti has also rejected accusations that his forces were receiving external support, specifically from the Russian mercenary Wagner Group.

“[There is] no truth to [reports of] us receiving any external support,” the general said. “These are false accusations made by al-Burhan. We have not even requested external support … Wagner was brought in to support the army, and not the RSF.”

This content was originally published here.