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Sudan’s Gen El Burhan threatens to expel UNITAMS head for ‘interference’

April 2 - 2022 KHARTOUM / NEW YORK
Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan (File photo: SUNA)
Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan (File photo: SUNA)

The head of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, threatened to expel the head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), Volker Perthes, accusing him of “overstepping the mandate of the UN mission” and interfering in Sudanese affairs.

In a statement to a graduating class at the Wadi Sayidna Military College in Omdurman on Friday, El Burhan warned the UNITAMS head to stop his blatant interference, as it could result in his “expulsion from the country”. He also added that, the African Union (AU) should work to “facilitate a dialogue with Sudanese actors” and exercise caution in “overstepping their mandate”.

This criticism follows the UNITAMS head’s briefing to the UN Security Council (UNSC) about Sudan’s deteriorating economic, humanitarian, and security situation. Perthes pleaded with the UNSC, saying: “Time is not on Sudan’s side, and I speak to you today with a sense of urgency which is also increasingly felt by Sudanese stakeholders concerned about the stability and the very existence of their country.”

Perthes also faced criticism from Sudan’s acting Foreign Minister, Ali Sadiq, who suggested that “UNITAMS should focus on the other basic aspects of its mandate, such as supporting the Juba Peace Agreement“, and the protocols attached to it.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, Saleh Mahmoud, a prominent human rights defender, described the Foreign Minister’s statement as hypocritical. Mahmoud expressed that the ministry “has no right to argue that the mission is not mandated to talk about the widespread and systematic violations” when it is the Sudanese authorities themselves responsible for such violations.

Perthes outlined a plan in joint effort with the UN, AU, and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to support Sudan through the next phase of the political process. The member countries of Friends of Sudan reiterated their strong support for the combined efforts of the UNITAMS, the AU, IGAD, to facilitate a Sudanese-led political process with the aim of restoring a civilian-led transition to democracy.

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