Officials: UN chief ‘shocked’ by letter from Sudan’s military rulers demanding removal of UN envoy

CAIRO — Sudan and UN officials say UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “shocked” by a letter from Sudan’s military ruler, demanding the expulsion of the UN special envoy to the country. .

The letter from General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, Sudan’s top military official and head of the ruling Sovereign Council, comes as Sudan descends into further turmoil after tensions deepen. The importance of military rivals exploded into an open skirmish last month.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “The Secretary-General is shocked by the letter he received this morning (Friday). “The Secretary-General is proud of the work done by (UN special envoy) Volker Perthes and reaffirms his full confidence in his Special Representative.”

Dujarric did not disclose the contents of the letter. However, a senior military official said Burhan’s letter asked Guterres to replace Perthes, who was appointed to the post in 2021.

According to the official, Burhan accused Perthes of being “partisan” and that his approach in pre-war negotiations between the generals and the pro-democracy movement had contributed to the conflict. . Negotiations aimed at restoring the country’s democratic transition were derailed by a military coup in October 2021.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Perthes declined to comment on the letter.

Burhan accused Perthes last year of “overstepping the mandate of the UN mission and blatantly meddling in Sudan’s affairs”. He threatened to expel him from the country.

Ongoing fighting broke out in mid-April between the army and the powerful Rapid Support Force commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Both Burhan and Dagalo led the 2021 coup that toppled the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

The fighting was concentrated in the capital Khartoum, which had been turned into a battlefield along with its sister city Omdurman. Clashes also spread to other parts of the country, including the war-torn Darfur region.

The conflict has killed hundreds and injured thousands more and pushed the country to the brink of collapse. It has forced more than 1.3 million people from their homes to safer areas inside Sudan or neighboring countries.

Sexual violence including rape of women and girls, a common practice in Sudan’s wars and political upheaval, has been reported in Khartoum and Darfur since the war began.

The Unit Against Violence Against Women, a government-run group, said on Friday it had received reports of at least 24 cases of sexual assault in Khartoum and another 25 in Darfur.

The National Violence Against Women Unit said most survivors reported that the attackers wore RSF uniforms and were in areas in Khartoum controlled by RSF checkpoints.

RSF did not respond to a request for comment.

Both warring sides have agreed to a week-long ceasefire, brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia. However, the truce, which is due to expire on Monday evening, has not stopped fighting in parts of Khartoum and elsewhere in the district.

Residents said there were sporadic clashes on Saturday in parts of Omdurman, where military planes were seen flying over the city. There were also reports of fighting in al-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur province.

Burhan’s letter comes after the UN special envoy accused the warring parties of disregarding the laws of war by attacking homes, shops, places of worship and water and electricity supply systems.

During a press conference before the United Nations Security Council earlier this week, Perthes blamed military and RSF leaders for the war, saying they had chosen to “resolve the unresolved conflict on the battlefield.” school instead of on the negotiating table”.


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