Sudan general who led coup threatens to expel UN envoy

CAIRO (AP) — Sudan’s top general threatened to expel the U.N. envoy to the country, accusing him of “flagrant interference” in the country’s affairs.

Friday’s comments by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council, came less than a week after U.N. envoy Volker Perthes warned that Sudan was heading for “an economic and security collapse” unless it addresses the political paralysis.

Sudan plunged into turmoil following an October military coup led by Burhan removed a Western-backed transitional government. The Oct. 25 military takeover upended Sudan’s democratic transition after a popular uprising forced the military to remove autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Speaking at a ceremony for new graduates of Sudan’s military academy in the capital of Khartoum, Burhan called on Perthes to “stop exceeding the U.N. mission’s mandate and blatant interference in Sudanese affairs.”

“To the U.N. envoy, Volker, if you exceeded the mandate, we would kick you out of Sudan,” he told the cheering graduates.

A spokesman for the U.N. mission in Sudan declined to comment on Burhan’s remarks.

Burhan also called on the U.N. and the African Union to “facilitate dialogue among Sudanese and avoid exceeding their mandate and interfere in the country’s affairs.”

He reiterated that the generals “don’t want to rule the country alone” and said they have repeatedly called on protest groups and other political forces to engage in dialogue and achieve “national consensus.”

Perthes is leading international efforts to find a way out of the crisis in Sudan. He told the U.N. Security Council on Monday that the absence of a political agreement on returning to a transitional path has already led to a deteriorating economic, humanitarian and security situation in the country.

Near-daily street protests in Sudan demanding a return to civilian rule have been met by a crackdown on protesters that has killed more than 90 people, mostly young men, and injured thousands, according to a Sudanese medical group.

The protesters demand the removal of the military from power. The generals, however, have said they will only hand over power to an elected administration. They say elections will take place in July 2023 as planned in a constitutional document governing the transitional period.

Perthes said the U.N., the AU and the eight-nation east African regional group called the Intergovernmental Authority in Development have agreed to join efforts to facilitate Sudanese-led political talks.

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