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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Sudan declares UN envoy 'persona non grata' as warring sides agree to new ceasefire

The Sudanese government announced that the U.N. envoy to the country and key mediator in its brutal conflict is no longer welcome as the warring sides in the African nation agreed to a new, 24-hour cease-fire.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry issued a terse statement late Thursday, weeks after the military chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, demanded in a letter that envoy Volker Perthes be removed from his post. The ministry said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres was notified that Perthes was declared “persona non grata.”

Since mid-April, Sudan’s military, headed by Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, led by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, have been locked in a violent conflict. The fighting has killed more than 860 civilians, according to Sudan’s Doctors’ Syndicate, which tracks civilian casualties, though the actual death toll is likely much higher.

On Friday, the military and the RSF agreed to a another truce, to last 24 hours, starting 6 a.m. on Saturday. The case-fire was announced by Saudi Arabia and the United States in a joint statement, carried by the kingdom’s Saudi Press Agency.

Despite the breakdown, the two mediators said they remain in contact with both sides in hopes of reviving the peace talks.

Perthes has been a key mediator in Sudan since 2021, first during the country’s failed attempts to transition to democracy and then as relations between the military and the RSF deteriorated. Perthes’ native Germany condemned Sudan’s announcement.

“The international community, including the German government, continues to stand fully behind Mr. Perthes and his efforts,” said Andrea Sasse, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in Berlin.

Perthes, who was in Ethiopia on Thursday, did not immediately comment on Sudan’s announcement. The German diplomat had received death threats and numerous calls to resign in recent months.

In his letter, Burhan accused Perthes of “being partisan,” and negatively contributing to pre-war talks between the generals and pro-democracy groups in the weeks building up to the conflict.


On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross rescued 297 children from an orphanage in Khartoum. The operation came after 71 children had died from hunger and illness in the facility since mid-April.

Also Friday, the aid group Mercy Corps warned that Sudan’s fighting could trigger a catastrophic food crisis and disease outbreaks in the coming months.

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