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Hemedti to visit Qatar in first Sudanese official trip since Bashir's overthrow

Hemedti heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 January, 2021

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The planned trip comes amid the easing of the Gulf blockade against Qatar.
One of Sudan's most influential political figures is set to visit Qatar this week.

Mohammad Hamdan Daglo, widely known as Hemedti, will travel to Doha on Saturday for the first visit by a Sudanese official since the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

Hemedti is a senior member of the joint civilian-military sovereign council that currently governs Sudan as part of a fragile democratic transition. 

He also heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a controversial descendant of the Janjaweed militias of Darfur. Activists accuse Hemedti and his forces of the torture and killing of protesters.

Hemedti's visit to Qatar follows rapprochement between Doha and a number of Gulf Arab states.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, key backers of the Sudanese transitional regime, led a punishing economic and diplomatic blockade of Qatar until an agreement earlier this month.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi's support for and financial backing of Khartoum may have led Sudan to shun relations with Qatar.
 
In April 2019, Sudanese officials reportedly rejected a visit from a delegation led by Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.

Khartoum later said it did not receive the delegation as it had been informed of the visit ahead of time.

"Qatar has led a conspiracy against the Transitional Military Council that was formed after Bashir was removed, when it sent its foreign minister to visit Sudan without notifying the leadership in Khartoum," said Hemedti, who at the time was the deputy leader of the military council that solely governed Sudan before a power-sharing deal with protest leaders.

The paramilitary chief later admitted to "boycotting" Qatar.

"We admit that we were wrong... and we are supposed to welcome them like others," he was quoted as saying by The Sudan Tribune.

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