Sudan's rival leaders give competing U.N. addresses

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STORY: The heads of Sudan's rival military factions gave competing addresses to the United Nations on Thursday (September 21).

One appeared on the podium at U.N. headquarters in New York, the other in a rare video recording from an undisclosed location.

Speaking at the U.N. following a string of foreign trips, army leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan called on the international community for support.

"I would like to reiterate. Our demand to designate the the rapid support forces and their allied militias as terrorist groups, for they have committed all sorts of crimes that give grounds for such designation. There is a need to firmly address their sponsors. Those who have supported the killing, burning, raping, the forced displacement, the looting, stealing, torture, transfer of arms and drugs, bringing mercenaries or recruiting children. All such crimes that necessitate accountability and punishment."

Rapid Support Forces leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, said in a video message that that his forces were prepared for a ceasefire and talks to end the conflict.

"The RSF is fully prepared to declare a ceasefire throughout Sudan. This will allow humanitarian aid to flow, provide safe passage for civilians and relief personnel, and initiate meaningful and comprehensive political dialogue. This dialogue should lead to a comprehensive political solution and the establishment of a civilian government, guiding the country toward democratic transformation and lasting peace."

Both sides blamed the other for starting the war that erupted in mid-April in Khartoum.

The conflict has spread to other parts of the country, including the western region of Darfur, displacing more than 5 million people and threatening to destabilize the region.

Previous assertions by the army and the RSF that they are seeking a solution to the conflict, as well as announcements of ceasefires by both sides, have failed to stop the bloodshed.

Witnesses say the army has used heavy artillery and air strikes that have caused casualties in residential districts of Khartoum and other cities, while the RSF has inflicted widespread looting and sexual violence on residents as well as participating in ethnically targeted attacks in Darfur.