On Wednesday, at the end of the Security Council’s meeting on Sudan, US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US representative to the United Nations and president of the Security Council for the month of August, declared that “the Sudanese government threatened to end the UN Mission in Sudan if Volker Perthes, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, participated in this briefing”. Mrs. Thomas-Greenfield reported: “No country should be able to bully a briefer into silence, let alone the United Nations”.
Mr. Perthes was expected to participate virtually in the meeting and, until yesterday, his presence was confirmed. But this morning, at the last moment, his name was removed and replaced with Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, the Assistant Secretary-General for Africa.
Neither the UN nor specifically the US received an official communication, and the spokesperson of the Secretary General didn’t confirm what happened. But the US ambassador Thomas-Greenfield declared that she spoke directly with Mr. Perthes about this, and he replied, “he was under instructions”.
Given his absence, she, on behalf of the Security Council administration, understood that this change “happened because the Sudanese government threatened to pull UNITAMS out of Sudan if he briefed the Council”, she stated. “We–as in the Security Council members–were appalled by it, it was outrageous, it was unacceptable. And it is. And we did push back. We got a really excellent briefing from the Assistant Secretary-General, but I do think it’s not appropriate for any Member State to block, or to threaten a briefer.”
At Wednesday’s briefing, the Security Council discussed the dramatic situation in Sudan, specifically the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces that started over 100 days ago and, quoting Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, “has turned swaths of the country into a living hell”.