UN backs Sudan envoy


Sources within Sudan’s foreign ministry said that Perthes will not be allowed back into the war-torn country…reports Asian Lite News

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres said he was “shocked” by a letter from Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan reportedly 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 dismissal.

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

Sources within Sudan’s foreign ministry said that Perthes will not be allowed back into the war-torn country.

Perthes is currently in New York City where he briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in Sudan earlier this week. No information is available on when he was due back in Sudan, where authorities have not given out visas to foreign nationals since the war started.

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

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

The rival factions are currently in the fifth day of a one-week ceasefire brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia, during which they have repeatedly accused each other of truce violations.

Neither the army nor the UN has released official copies of al-Burhan’s letter, which reportedly requested the dismissal of Perthes 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 in the ruling sovereign council, pooled hardline military supporters into his inner circle, and is now seeking to reinforce army ranks.

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

“The Sudanese regime for a long time has never really accepted the role of the UN. Mr Volker Perthes’ departure is not really a surprise. He knew the future in Sudan was rather bleak for himself,” said Aicha Elbasri, a former spokeswoman for the African Union-UN mission in Darfur.

Sudan’s defence ministry on Friday called on “army pensioners … as well as all those capable of bearing arms” to head to their nearest military command unit and “arm themselves in order to protect themselves,” their families and their neighbours.

A statement later in the day walked back the call to just army “reservists” and “pensioners”.

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

More than one million people have been displaced within Sudan in addition to 300,000 who have fled to neighbouring countries, the UN says.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s acting Defence Minister Yassin Ibrahim Yassin has called on retired soldiers and whoever is able to carry arms to report to the nearest army base amidst the ongoing conflict.

“We call on all pensioners of the armed forces, including officers, non-commissioned officers, soldiers and all those who are able to carry arms, to go to the nearest military base to get armed,” Yassin said in a statement, adding that the move was intended to enable those people to defend themselves.

The statement stressed the Sudanese Army’s commitment to the humanitarian truce based on the moral responsibility to protect civilians and humanitarian aid, and accused the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of continuing its violations of the truce.

The statement described the clashes with the RSF as a “cities war” which has no time limits, stressing the Sudanese Army’s ability to defeat the remnants of the rebel force.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia and the US announced that Sudan’s warring parties — the army and RSF — are complying better with a seven-day ceasefire agreement signed on May 20 in Jeddah.

According to the agreement, which was brokered by Saudi Arabia and the Us and entered into force on Monday, the warring parties shall guarantee civilians’ freedom of movement throughout the country and protect them from violence, harassment, recruitment, or other abuses, as well as refrain from any violations of international human rights law.

The parties shall also provide security guarantees for safe and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese Doctors Union, a non-governmental body, announced that the armed clashes which broke out on April 15 have so far killed 865 people and injured 3,634 others.

In its latest update on the situation in Sudan, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that the conflict has forced more than 1.36 million people to flee their homes, including nearly 320,000 who have escaped to neighbouring countries.

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