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UN chief ‘shocked’ by letter from Sudan’s military ruler asking to replace UN’s special envoy in Sudan

<i>Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images/FILE</i><br/>UN Special Representative for Sudan Volker Perthes in the capital Khartoum in December 2022.
Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
UN Special Representative for Sudan Volker Perthes in the capital Khartoum in December 2022.

By Richard Roth and Heather Law, CNN

(CNN) — United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres was “shocked,” according to his spokesman, by a letter received on Friday from Sudan’s military ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan reportedly asking that his envoy to Sudan be removed.

“The Secretary-General is proud of the work done by (UN special representative to Sudan) Volker Perthes 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 requested that Perthes be removed from his post, Reuters earlier reported citing sources in the Sudanese presidency.

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

Perthes, who was appointed to his role in 2021, has voiced strong concern over the conflict. In an address to the UN Security Council earlier this week, he criticized both leaders of Sudan’s warring parties and warned of “a growing ethnicization of the conflict.”

“Neither side has yet shown the ability to decisively claim a military victory,” Perthes said.

Despite a seven-day ceasefire currently in place – due to expire this weekend – fighting has continued between both sides. Mediators have recently observed the use of artillery and military aircraft and drones, airstrikes, sustained fighting in the heart of the Khartoum Industrial Area, and clashes in Zalingei, Darfur, according to the US embassy in Khartoum.

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

The conflict in Sudan has resulted in a heavy toll on civilians, with over 700 people killed, including 190 children, and 6,000 others injured, according to Perthes.

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

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

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