UN chief Antonio Guterres said he was “shocked” by a letter from Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, apparently asking for the replacement of special envoy Volker Perthes amid a war brutal with the paramilitaries.
António Guterres “is proud of the work done by Volker Perthes and reaffirms his full confidence in his Special Representative,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said on Friday evening.
“The Secretary General is shocked by the letter he received from General Al-Burhan”, currently at war with his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary rapid support forces.
The rival forces are currently in the fifth day of a week-long ceasefire brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia, during which they have repeatedly accused each other of truce violations.
Neither the military nor the UN has released official copies of Burhan’s letter, which allegedly called for Perthes’ dismissal as Guterres’ envoy to Sudan.
It is the latest in a series of moves by Burhan, who last week officially sacked Daglo as his deputy in the ruling sovereign council, herded hardline military supporters into his inner circle and seeks now to reinforce the ranks of the army.
Sudan’s Ministry of Defense on Friday called on “army retirees…as well as all who are able to bear arms” to go to their nearest military command unit and “arm themselves for protect themselves”, their families and their neighbours.
A statement later in the day referred the call to only “reservists” and “retirees” from the military.
Perthes and the UN mission in Sudan have been the target of several protests by thousands of military and Islamist supporters who have repeatedly accused Perthes of “foreign intervention” and demanded his dismissal.
Similar protests have taken place in the eastern city of Port Sudan since the war began on April 15.
Fighting across Sudan has killed more than 1,800 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
The United Nations says more than a million people have been displaced inside Sudan, in addition to 300,000 who have fled to neighboring countries.
Perthes is currently in New York, where he briefed the Security Council on the situation in Sudan earlier this week.
There is no information on when he will return to Sudan, where authorities have not issued visas to foreign nationals since the start of the war.