CAIRO (AP) — The United Nations secretary-general was “shocked” by a letter from Sudan’s army chief demanding the withdrawal of the UN envoy to the country, Sudanese and UN officials said on Saturday. .
Secretary General Antonio Guterres received the letter on Friday from General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, a senior Sudanese military official and head of the ruling Sovereign Council, according to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“The Secretary-General is shocked by the letter he received this (Friday) morning,” Dujarric said. “The Secretary-General is proud of the work accomplished by Volker Perthes and reaffirms his full confidence in his Special Representative.
The development comes amid fighting between the army and a paramilitary force that began in mid-April. The two sides had agreed to observe 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 county.
Dujarric did not reveal the contents of the letter. However, a senior military official said Burhan’s letter asked Guterres to replace his envoy to the northeast African country, appointed in 2021.
According to the official, Burhan accused Perthes of “being partisan” and that his approach in pre-war talks between the generals and the pro-democracy movement helped inflame the conflict.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to brief the media.
Perthes, who was appointed in 2021 as the UN envoy to Sudan, declined to comment on the letter.
Last year, Burhan accused Perthes of “exceeding the mandate of the UN mission and grossly interfering in Sudanese affairs”. He threatened to expel him from the country.
Fighting in Sudan erupted in mid-April between the army, led by Burhan, and paramilitary rapid support forces, commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The fighting has been concentrated in the capital of Khartoum, which has been turned into a battleground along with its sister city of Omdurman. The clashes have also spread elsewhere in the country, notably in the war-ravaged region of Darfur.
The conflict has killed hundreds of people and injured thousands more. It has also driven more than 1.3 million people from their homes to safer areas inside Sudan or to neighboring countries.
Burhan’s letter came after the UN envoy accused warring parties of breaking the laws of war by attacking homes, shops, places of worship and water and sanitation facilities. electricity.
In his briefing to the UN Security Council earlier this week, Perthes blamed army chiefs and the RSF for the war, saying they had chosen to “settle their unresolved conflict on the battlefield. rather than at the table”.
The fighting capped months of escalating tensions between rival generals, who jointly toppled the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in a coup in October 2021.
The power struggle between the army and the RSF has derailed internationally-backed efforts to restore Sudan’s transition to democracy.
Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed.