Sudanese foreign ministry sources told Al Jazeera that Volker Perthes would not be allowed to return to the war-torn country.
UN chief Antonio Guterres said he was “shocked” by a letter from Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan asking for the replacement of special envoy Volker Perthes.
Perthes and the UN mission in Sudan have been the target of several protests from thousands of military and other supporters who have repeatedly accused him of “foreign intervention” and demanded his dismissal.
“[Guterres] is proud of the work done by Volker Perthes and reaffirms its full confidence in his special representative,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said on Friday evening. “The General Secretary is shocked by the letter he received from General al-Burhan.”
Sources within Sudan’s foreign ministry told Al Jazeera that Perthes would not be allowed to return to the war-torn country.
Perthes is currently in New York where he briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in Sudan earlier this week. No information is available on when he will return to Sudan, where authorities have not issued visas to foreign nationals since the start of the war.
Al-Burhan accused Perthes of widening divisions in the country by excluding voices that 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 weeklong ceasefire brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia, during which they have repeatedly accused each other of truce violations.
“Not really a surprise”
Neither the military nor the UN has released official copies of al-Burhan’s letter, which allegedly called for Perthes’ dismissal as Guterres’ envoy to Sudan.
It was the latest in a series of moves by al-Burhan, who last week formally sacked Hemedti as his deputy in the ruling sovereign council, rounded up extremist military supporters into his inner circle and seeks now to reinforce the ranks of the army.
Observers say the presence of the UN mission in Sudan has been problematic for the army since the conflict in Darfur in the 2000s and the coup of 2021.
“For a long time, the Sudanese regime never really accepted the role of the UN. The departure of Mr. Volker Perthes 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 Ministry of Defense on Friday called on “army retirees…as well as all who are able to bear arms” to go to their nearest military command unit and “arm themselves to protect themselves.” “, their families and neighbors.
A statement later in the day referred the call to only “reservists” and “retirees” from the military.
Recent fighting across Sudan has killed more than 1,800 peopleaccording 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, according to the UN.