Sudan recalled its ambassador to Kenya, Kamal Gubara on Thursday, frustrated by the reception accorded to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader, Hamdan Dagalo during his Nairobi visit on Wednesday.
Dagalo, who has also met regional Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti, was received by Kenyan high-ranking government and security officials on the airport tarmac.
A red carpet had been rolled out at the regal JKIA Presidential pavilion, complete with a troupe of dancers and cameras.
This VVIP treatment, way fancier than what Sudanese military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan got, likely stir up some drama in Sudan. The paramilitary leader was received by Kenya’s interior minister Kithure Kindiki, and Spy agency chief Nordin Haji.
Sudanese foreign minister-designate, Ali Al Sadiq, confirmed the summoning of their envoy for consultations in protest against Nairobi’s action.
He further added that the consultation with their ambassador will cover all possibilities for the outcome of Sudan’s relations with Kenya, which since the conflict broke out, Nairobi has been continuing the rebellion and hosting its rebel leaders and supporters.
Sadiq said Kenya is conspiring with hostile regional powers against Sudan.
Dagalo was in Kenya, where he held talks with President William Ruto at State House Nairobi, just hours before his scheduled conference, which was to be held at the Villa Rosa Kempinski hotel, was called off.
Journalists gathered for the event at the uptown hotel in Nairobi, were initially informed of Dagalo’s absence due to scheduling conflicts and later received an apology from an official. This sparked speculation about diplomatic tensions or a cautious approach by Nairobi.
“The General would have loved to address you here, but, unfortunately, he has several meetings that will end at midnight, yet he is expected to fly back very early tomorrow. We are sorry for not attending this presser,” said a Sudanese official.
Just after the cancelled presser, Kenya’s spy agency chief Nordin Haji was seen at the hotel, where tight security measures were notably intensified to ensure the former Janjaweed commander was safe and secure.
There was heightened curiosity about the motives behind the sudden cancellation.
Kenya’s role in mediating the Sudanese conflict has faced challenges, with Sudan opposing Ruto’s appointment as head of the IGAD quartet.
President Ruto, in a cautiously worded statement, expressed optimism about the ongoing IGAD talks.
“Kenya appreciates the commitment by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and its leader, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, to ending the conflict in Sudan through dialogue.” The Kenyan leader posted on X.
The IGAD quartet, consisting of Kenya, Djibouti, South Sudan, and Ethiopia, faced resistance from the Sudanese military ruler in accepting Ruto’s chairmanship.
Sudan accused Kenya of bias, leading to tensions within the regional mediation efforts.
Recently, IGAD pulled the plug on Ruto’s mediation show at Khartoum’s request and tossed the mediation role back to the regional bloc and the African Union.
General Dagalo’s visit to Kenya follows two regional tours to Uganda, Djibouti and Ethiopia.
The discussions centred on the conflict’s latest developments and the RSF’s commitment to ending the historic suffering of the Sudanese people.
However, the RSF, accused of war crimes and sexual violence by rights groups, complicates the diplomatic landscape.
Human Rights Watch documented numerous instances of rape and war crimes during RSF’s attacks in the Darfur region. – Barrack Oduor