Sudan paramilitary threatens to set up authority with Khartoum as capital

CAIRO (Reuters) - The head of Sudan's main paramilitary group threatened on Thursday to set up a governing authority in areas his forces control if his enemies in the army form a government.

Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo has been fighting the army for almost five months in a conflict that has wrecked the country and triggered a humanitarian crisis.

Last month, a senior figure in Sudan's Sovereign Council, headed by army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said a caretaker government was needed.

On Thursday Dagalo, known as Hemedti, said: "If the army forms the government, we will immediately initiate broad consultations to establish a genuine civilian authority in areas under our extensive control with Khartoum as the capital."

He added that any move by the army to set up a caretaker government in the eastern Red Sea port of Port Sudan would split the country.

While the RSF has fanned out across residential areas throughout Khartoum and neighbouring Bahri and Omdurman, the army has used its advantage of heavy artillery and air strikes to try to push them back, resulting in hundreds of civilian casualties.

The army and Rapid Support Forces began fighting on April 15, after tensions arose over integration of their troops in a new transition to democracy. While several countries have launched mediation efforts, none has succeeded in bringing a halt to the fighting.

(Reporting by Alaa Swilam and Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Alaa Swilam; Editing by Andrew Heavens)