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Officials: UN chief 'shocked' by letter from Sudan's military ruler demanding removal of UN envoy


The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "shocked" by a letter from Sudan's military ruler, demanding the removal of the UN envoy to the country, Sudanese and UN officials said Saturday.

The letter by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, Sudan's top military official and head of the ruling Sovereign Council, comes as Sudan plunged into further chaos after worsening tensions between military rivals exploded into an open fighting last month.

"The Secretary-General is shocked by the letter he received this (Friday) morning," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. "The Secretary-General is proud of the work done by (UN envoy) Volker Perthes and reaffirms his full confidence in his Special Representative."

Dujarric didn't reveal the contents of the letter. However, a senior military official said Burhan's letter asked Guterres to replace Perthes who was appointed to the post in 2021.

According to the official, Burhan accused Perthes of "being partisan," and that his approach in prewar talks between the generals and the pro-democracy movement helped inflame the conflict. The talks had aimed at restoring the country's democratic transition which was derailed by a military coup in Oct. 2021.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief media.

Perthes declined to comment neither on the letter.

Burhan accused Perthes last year of "exceeding the UN mission's mandate and of blatant interference in Sudanese affairs." He threatened to expel him from the country.

The ongoing fighting broke out in mid-April between the military and the powerful Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Both Burhan and Dagalo led the 2021 coup that removed the western-backed government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

The fighting centred in the capital of Khartoum, which was turned into a battleground along with its sister city of Omdurman. The clashes also spread elsewhere in the country, including the war-wracked Darfur region.

The conflict has killed hundreds of people, and wounded thousands of others, and pushed the country to near collapse. It forced more than 1.3 million out of their homes to safer areas inside Sudan, or to neighbouring nations.

Sexual violence including rape of women and girls, a common practice in Sudan's wars and political upheavals, were reported in Khartoum and Darfur since the fighting began.

The Combating Violence Against Women Unit, a government-run group, said on Friday it received reports of at least 24 cases of sexual attacks in Khartoum, and 25 other cases in Darfur.

The unit, which tracks violence against women across the country, said most of survivors reported that the attackers were in RSF uniform and in areas in Khartoum controlled by RSF checkpoints.

The RSF didn't respond to a request for comment.

Both warring parties have agreed on a weeklong ceasefire, brokered by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. However, the truce, which is scheduled to expire Monday night, did not stop the fighting in parts of Khartoum and elsewhere in the county.

Residents reported sporadic clashes Saturday in parts of Omdurman, where the army's aircrafts were seen flying over the city. There was also fighting reported in al-Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur.

Burhan's letter came after the UN envoy accused the warring parties of disregarding the laws of war by attacking homes, shops, places of worship and water and electricity installations.

In his briefing to the UN Security Council earlier this week, Perthes blamed the leaders of the military and the RSF for the war, saying that they have chosen to "settle their unresolved conflict on the battlefield rather than at the table." Top Stories

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