HomeWorldUN Backs Sudan Envoy as Army Seeks to Oust Him

UN Backs Sudan Envoy as Army Seeks to Oust Him

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Sudanese Foreign Ministry sources told Al Jazeera that Volker Perthes will not be allowed to return to the war-torn country.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said he was “shocked” by a letter from Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan requesting the replacement of special envoy Volker Perthes.

Perthes and the UN mission in Sudan have been the target of several protests by thousands of military and other supporters who repeatedly accused him of “foreign intervention” and demanded his ouster.

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“[Guterres] is proud of the work done by Volker Perthes and reaffirms his full confidence in his special representative,” a statement from U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said late Friday. “The secretary-general is shocked by the letter he received from General al-Burhan.”

Sudanese Foreign Ministry sources told Al Jazeera that Perthes will not be allowed to return to the war-torn country.

Al-Burhan accused Perthes of widening divisions in the country by excluding voices that should have been involved in the transition to civilian rule.

Al-Burhan’s army is currently at war with his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

Not really a surprise

Neither the military nor the UN has released official copies of al-Burhan’s letter, which purportedly called for Perthes’ removal as Guterres’ envoy to Sudan.

It was the latest in a series of moves by al-Burhan, who last week officially sacked Hemedti as his deputy on the ruling sovereign council, rallied hardline military supporters in his inner circle, and is now trying to bolster the army’s ranks.

Observers say the presence of the UN mission in Sudan has been problematic for the military since the conflict in Darfur during the 2000s and the 2021 coup.

“For a long time, the Sudanese regime has never really accepted the role of the UN. The departure of Mr. Volker Perthes comes as no surprise. He knew the future in Sudan was pretty bleak for him,” said Aicha Elbasri, a former spokeswoman for the African Union-UN mission in Darfur.

Sudan’s Defense Ministry on Friday called for “army pensioners … as well as all those capable of bearing arms” to address their nearest military command unit and “arm themselves to protect themselves,” their families, and their neighbors.

A statement later in the day rejected the call to the army “reservists” and “pensioners.”

Recent fighting in Sudan has killed more than 1,800 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

More than a million people have been displaced inside Sudan, in addition to 300,000 who have fled to neighboring countries, the UN says.




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