Sudan junta declares UN envoy Volker Perthes 'persona non grata'

Friday June 09 2023

UN Special Representative for Sudan Volker Perthes in the capital Khartoum on December 5, 2022. PHOTO | AFP


Sudan on Thursday evening announced that it was expelling Volker Perthes, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Integrated Transitional Support Mission in Sudan (Unitams).

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry stated that the government notified the secretary-general of the UN of declaring Volker Perthes persona non grata.

The commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, had earlier expressed his rejection of the envoy, and head of the mission ended on June 3.

In a letter addressed to the UN boss Antonio Guterres last May, Burhan said Perthes became a source of negative repercussions towards the global body.

He also accused him of "practically misleading" in his reports by saying that there was a consensus on the framework agreement and that “without signs of encouragement from several parties, including Perthes,” the commander of the Rapid Support Forces, Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, would not have "revolted".

Read: UN: No sign Sudan rivals ready to negotiate


Burhan and Daglo who lead rival forces in Sudan plunged the country into war on April 15 after the Rapid Support Forces attacked the Sudan Armed Forces. The two sides have signed six ceasefire agreements, all of which have been violated. This week, mediators in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and the US, proposes aerial surveillance to enforce a new ceasefire. But the two sides had not yet agreed on it by Friday.

“What Volker Perthes spent at the head of the mission does not help to implement the mandate of Unitams in a way that contributes to a successful transition process,” Burhan said.

The UN chief says the decision was a surprise.

“Guterres was shocked by the message he received,” UN Secretary General’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

"The Secretary-General is proud of the work done by Volker Perthes and reaffirms his full confidence as a special representative," Dujarric added.

Perthes declined to comment on the letter.

Last year, Al-Burhan also accused Perthes of exceeding the mandate of the UN mission, blatant interference in Sudanese affairs and threatened to oust him from the country.

Read: Sudan fatwa call worries UN

The US State Department then expressed its "strong support" for Perthes, noting its "concern" about Al-Burhan's message in which he called for the resignation of the UN official.

In early June, the UN Security Council announced the extension of the UN political mission in Sudan for six months.

The Security Council resolution, which was brief, stated that the approval came unanimously to extend the mandate of the "United Nations Integrated Transitional Support Mission in Sudan" until December 3, 2023.

It is noteworthy that Volker Perthes, a German national, was appointed Special Representative for Sudan and Head of the UN Mission on January 7, 2021, and according to his CV, he has more than 25 years of experience in academic and research circles, international relations and diplomacy.