Perthes on Wednesday announced his resignation amid tensions with Khartoum over the war in Sudan.
The United Nations special envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, has announced that he will step down from the role, more than three months after Sudan’s military-controlled government declared him unwelcome in the war-torn country.
“I am grateful to the secretary-general for that opportunity and for his confidence in me, but I have asked him to relieve me of this duty,” Perthes told the Security Council on Wednesday, warning that the conflict “could be morphing into a full-scale civil war”.
The conflict in Sudan involves fighting between the army, led by de facto ruler Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, against its former allies, the paramiltary Rapid Support Forces under Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo. The two generals had jointly seized power in a coup in 2021, but fell out over how to share control.
“What started as a conflict between two military formations could be morphing into a full-blown civil war,” Perthes warned.
Perthes told the 15-member Security Council that there was “little doubt who is responsible for what” in the conflict.
“Often indiscriminate aerial bombing is conducted by those who have an air force, which is the SAF. Most of the sexual violence, lootings and killings happen in areas controlled by the RSF and are conducted or tolerated by the RSF and their allies,” he said during his last council briefing.
Moreover, Perthes said that both sides were arbitrarily arresting, detaining, and “even torturing civilians” and there were reports of extrajudicial killings.
‘Respect his will’
UN chief Antonio Guterres said Perthes had “very strong reasons to resign and I have to respect his will and accept his resignation”.
“Unfortunately, we are witnessing a never-ending series of terrible fighting with dramatic impacts on [the] civilian population and this is absolutely intolerable,” he added during a news briefing on Wednesday.
“I think that the international community must come together to tell those that are leading the fight in Sudan, they need to stop. Because what they are doing is not only the destruction of their own country, but it is a serious threat to regional peace and security.”
According to the UN Charter, member states are obligated to respect UN officials, and only the UN’s secretary-general has the authority to withdraw staff.
Sudan’s decision to do so anyway has severely disrupted the work of the special envoy.
At the end of May, al-Burhan accused Perthes of worsening the conflict and called for his removal. The UN has repeatedly rejected al-Burhan’s accusations.
Perthes has served as the chief international mediator for Sudan since February 2021, tasked with finding agreement among the many political factions in the country on a path towards democracy and peace.
However, a December 2022 agreement that Perthes helped negotiate broke down when the fighting started on April 15.
Officially, the Sudanese government has no authority to declare United Nations envoys undesirable or expel them from the country.