The Sudanese government announced on Thursday that Volker Perthes, the German UN envoy who has been tasked with overseeing the ongoing war, is a persona non grata in the country.
In a statement, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified the UN Secretary-General that “the Republic of Sudan considers Volker Perthes… as a persona non grata as of today.”
The United Nations had earlier announced via Twitter that Perthes was visiting Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Thursday for a series of diplomatic talks.
Sudan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, had previously called for the dismissal of the senior diplomat, accusing him of being responsible for the war that erupted on April 15 between his forces and those loyal to Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
In a letter addressed to the United Nations, al-Burhan specifically accused Perthes of “concealing” the explosive situation in Khartoum prior to the outbreak of the clashes in his reports. He claimed that without “these lies,” Dagalo would not have initiated his military operations.
The fighting broke out on April 15, the day the two military commanders were supposed to meet for negotiations, as requested by the United Nations weeks before.
While many observers anticipated the failure of the talks, Perthes expressed his “optimism.” He also admitted to being “surprised” on the day the clashes broke out.
Perthes was in New York when al-Burhan sent his accusatory message. Since the conflict began, Sudanese authorities have not granted entry visas to foreigners.
At the time, the UN Secretary-General expressed his “full confidence” in his envoy.
However, at the beginning of June, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), led by Perthes, for another six months.
The mission was established in June 2020 to support the democratic transition in Sudan, one year after the fall of President Omar al-Bashir. The mission’s mandate has been extended annually for one year.
For months, thousands of people supporting the army and Islamists have been protesting against Perthes and alleged “foreign interference.”
Democratic supporters have long accused al-Burhan of being a tool in the hands of Islamists from the former regime of President Omar al-Bashir (1989-2019). Dagalo also benefits from this discourse, repeatedly presenting himself as fighting against “Islamists” and the “remnants of the old regime,” positioning himself as a defender of “democracy” and “human rights.”
Meanwhile, thousands of his men are accused of committing atrocities on behalf of al-Bashir during the war in Darfur in the early 21st century.
The conflict has resulted in the deaths of over 1,800 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED). However, the actual number of casualties may be much higher, according to relief agencies and international organizations.
The latest figures from the International Organization for Migration, a UN agency, indicate that the conflict has displaced approximately two million people, including over 476,000 who have crossed into neighboring countries. Sudan, which was already one of the poorest countries in the world before the conflict, has been severely affected.
UN estimates suggest that 25 million out of a total population of 45 million people in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The situation has reached an impasse, with none of the multiple ceasefires declared by the rival military commanders being respected. An initial attempt at mediation by Saudi Arabia and the United States was suspended on June 1.
The army had withdrawn from negotiations the day before, which aimed to establish safe corridors