The commander of the Rapid Support Forces, General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, commonly known as Hemedti, continues his diplomatic tour in Southern Africa, even as the regional organization Igad strives to facilitate a meeting between the general and his rival, General Burhan, the head of the Sudanese army.
Following visits to Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, and South Africa this week, General Hemedti arrived in Rwanda this Friday. The details of the meeting remain undisclosed, but the official receptions, complete with red carpets, especially in South Africa, have sparked controversy.
“The President, Cyril Ramaphosa, received a courtesy visit from His Excellency, President Mohamed Daglo of Sudan,” the South African presidency initially announced on social media.
However, this message was deleted a few hours later and replaced with a more neutral statement: “President Ramaphosa received the leader of the Rapid Support Forces, General Mohamed Daglo.”
The visit of the chief of paramilitary forces to the rainbow nation has stirred anger. “A shameful handshake,” protests a Sudanese researcher, pointing out that Hemedti’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court.
“How can the rainbow nation accuse Israel of genocide for its intervention in the Gaza Strip,” laments a Sudanese activist, “and at the same time, welcome a man who is himself responsible for massacres in Darfur?”
Many Sudanese in exile express their dismay at General Hemedti being treated as a head of state not only in Pretoria but also in the wider region. The controversy deepens as South Africa, known for its anti-apartheid history and commitment to human rights, grapples with the ethical implications of hosting a figure linked to alleged atrocities.
As the diplomatic dance unfolds, questions arise about the values at play and the diplomatic considerations that led to these high-profile receptions. The controversial red-carpet treatment of General Hemedti raises concerns about the region’s stance on accountability for alleged human rights abuses, creating a stark contrast to the principles championed by many of its citizens.