Sudan’s junta has formally requested the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to terminate the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (Unitams), further exacerbating tensions between Khartoum and the global organization.
A leaked letter to the Security Council revealed that Khartoum had decided to immediately end Unitams, the political mission established to aid Sudan’s transition to civilian rule, a process that has faced challenges since October 2021.
Al-Harith Idriss al-Harith, Sudan’s Permanent Representative to the UN, conveyed that he had received instructions from Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq to terminate Unitams.
The UNSC now faces the decision of the mission’s fate, which replaced the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (Unamid) in 2020.
The termination of the council’s mandate could resolve a lingering dispute with Khartoum, highlighted by the resignation of Unitams head Volker Perthes in September, following accusations of bias by Sudan.
“I have had the privilege to serve as the United Nations Secretary General’s special representative for Sudan for more than two and a half years,” Perthes told an open briefing on Sudan at the council, New York in September.
“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.”
The country had warned of potential ties cut with Unitams if Perthes addressed a council session in September, ultimately abstaining after his resignation.
Sudan, engulfed in conflict since April 15, witnessed clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, resulting in significant casualties and displacements.
In September, Perthes appealed to the council, urging action against both warring parties for their crimes and emphasizing the need to end the conflict for the benefit of the Sudanese people.
“Both sides are arbitrarily arresting, detaining, and even torturing civilians and there are reports of extrajudicial killings,” he said.
“Let me be clear, for the benefit of history, that regardless of who fired the first shot, both sides were clearly setting the stage for war. The warring parties chose to settle their conflict through fighting, and it is their duty to the Sudanese people to end it.”
In August, the United States accused Sudan of having threatened to expel the United Nations mission from the war-torn country if the UN envoy, already in Khartoum’s crosshairs, spoke before the Security Council on the atrocities of the conflict.
During a session devoted to Sudan and South Sudan, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, whose country was chairing the Council in August, slammed the absence of Perthes, the then special representative of the secretary-general in Sudan and head of the UN mission there, known as Unitams.
“We had expected SRSG Perthes to brief the Council. We now understand that the Sudanese government warned it would end the UN mission in Sudan if the SRSG participated in this briefing. And that is unacceptable,” the US ambassador said in front of her Sudanese counterpart, Al-Harith Mohamed.
In June, Perthes denounced possible “crimes against humanity” in Darfur, after which Khartoum declared him persona non grata, accusing him of being biased.
Farhan Haq, a spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres said Perthes “continues to be the Special Representative of the Secretary-General dealing with Sudan,” without however confirming the accusations of the US ambassador.