Sudan’s army has asked the United Nations to change its envoy to the country, as it calls on reservists and retired soldiers to re-enlist amid the ongoing conflict with a rival paramilitary force.
Friday’s call to former soldiers to present themselves at their nearest military base comes days into a shaky truce between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Sporadic fighting has continued throughout the internationally backed truce, but the ceasefire monitors – Saudi Arabia and the United States – said on Friday that compliance was improving.
An army spokesperson said enlistment would be voluntary. Sudan’s existing armed forces law, however, states that retired soldiers remain as reservists, eligible for compulsory re-enlistment. That does not include those who only did Sudan’s mandatory two-year military service.
On Friday, the army leader, Abdel-Fatteh al-Burhan, wrote to the US secretary general, António Guterres, asking him to replace his envoy Volker Perthes, sources in the Sudanese presidency said.
Perthes, who was appointed in 2021, had pushed a political transition to civilian rule that some in the army opposed.
“The secretary general is shocked by the letter,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Friday. “The secretary general is proud of the work done by Volker Perthes and reaffirms his full confidence in his special representative.“
The army and the RSF began a seven-day truce on Monday intended to allow access to aid and services. The conflict, which began in mid-April, is thought to have killed hundreds and created a refugee crisis.
Despite a slowdown in fighting, there have been reports throughout the week of clashes, artillery fire and airstrikes.
Residents of Khartoum who have stayed in the city suffer from regular breakdowns of electricity, water, health and communication services. Many homes, particularly in well-off areas, have been looted, along with food stores, flour mills and other essential facilities.
About 1.3 million people are thought to have fled their homes, either across borders or within the country. The health ministry has said at least 730 people have died, though the true figure is likely much higher.
With half of Sudan’s roughly 49 million people in need of aid, the US Agency for International Development has said grain to feed 2 million for a month was being sent by ship.
However, it is unclear how that and other aid will reach Sudanese people without security guarantees and bureaucratic approvals.
“We are in a race against time to get aid to millions of people before the rainy season arrives in June,” said Islamic Relief programme manager Eltahir Imam.
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