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UN chief ‘shocked’ by letter from Sudanese military leader asking to replace UN special envoy to Sudan

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, according to his spokesman, was “appalled” by a letter received Friday from Sudan’s military ruler, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in which he reportedly asked for his envoy to Sudan to to delete.

“The Secretary-General is proud of the work of Volker Perthes (UN Special Representative in Sudan) and reaffirms his full confidence in his Special Representative,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a written statement on Friday.

Burhan had written to Guterres requesting that Perthes be removed from office, Reuters previously reported, citing sources in the Sudanese presidency.

Weeks of fierce fighting in Sudan between Burhan’s Sudanese forces and the country’s Rapid Support Forces led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo has left the country in turmoil and shaken hopes for a peaceful transition to civilian rule.

Sudan’s military leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Khartoum on December 5, 2022. – El Tayeb Siddig/Reuters/FILE

Perthes, who was appointed to his position in 2021, has expressed deep concern about the conflict. In a speech to the UN Security Council earlier this week, he criticized both leaders of Sudan’s warring factions and warned of “a growing ethnicization of the conflict”.

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“Neither side has so far shown the ability to claim a decisive military victory,” Perthes said.

Despite a seven-day ceasefire that expires this weekend, fighting between the two sides continues. According to the US Embassy in Khartoum, mediators have recently observed the use of artillery and military aircraft and drones, airstrikes, ongoing fighting in the heart of Khartoum’s industrial area and clashes in Zalingei, Darfur.

Speaking to the Security Council, Perthes said responsibility for the fighting “lies with those who wage it on a daily basis: the leadership of the two sides who share responsibility for choosing to settle their unresolved conflict on the battlefield rather than at the table.” “

The conflict in Sudan has led to a heavy toll of civilians, according to Perthes, with more than 700 dead, including 190 children, and 6,000 injured.

More than a million people have been displaced, seeking shelter in rural areas, in other states in Sudan and crossing the Sudanese border.

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Previous coverage contributed by CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali in Atlanta.

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