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Sudan Ousts UN Envoy
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The Sudanese Government Sunday ordered the chief UN envoy to leave the country within three days after he wrote that the Sudanese army had suffered serious losses in fighting with rebels in northern Darfur.

The official Sudan News Agency said the order was issued against the envoy, Jan Pronk of the Netherlands, because he had demonstrated "enmity to the Sudanese Government and the armed forces" and was involved in unspecified activities "that are incompatible with his mission."
The Foreign Ministry wrote to the UN office in Khartoum that Mr. Pronk's mission "has come to an end" and he "must leave Sudanese territory within 72 hours starting from midday (Sunday)," the official agency said.

The government and Mr. Pronk have been at odds over Western efforts to allow a UN force of 20,000 troops to take over peacekeeping in Darfur, a move President Omar al-Bashir has flatly rejected as a bid to restore colonial rule.

Tension escalated after Mr. Pronk wrote in his personal blog this month that Sudanese army losses in recent fighting in northern Darfur "seem to have been very high."

"Reports speak about hundreds of casualties in each of the two battles, many wounded soldiers and many taken as prisoner," he said, adding that morale was low among Sudanese troops in northern Darfur and "some generals have been sacked; soldiers have refused fighting."

On Thursday, the Sudanese armed forces said those remarks amounted to "psychological war against the Sudanese army" and declared that Mr. Pronk was "persona non-grata." The next day, an official apology was demanded by the military.

The government said it was "committed to co-operate" with the UN and would work with Mr. Pronk's replacement "in accordance with signed treaties with the UN and the current principles of international law."

In another development, Sudan has lifted the state of emergency in its eastern region and released prisoners following a peace deal signed last week, state media and said Sunday.

"They lifted it two days ago," said Ahmed Mohamed Mokhtar, president of the east's main political Beja Congress Party. "It was not announced but we can see they have taken the police from the streets," he said from Port Sudan.

Police checkpoints, imposed in 1999 and lifted in 2005, are visible throughout Sudan except the east and Darfur as the state of national emergency continues.

The state-owned Sudanese Media Centre said President Omar al-Bashir had lifted the state of emergency in the east and released political prisoners with a decree issued on Friday.

But Mr. Mokhtar said there were no eastern political prisoners because they had all been released before. The peace deal was signed in the Eritrean capital Asmara on October 14.

(China Daily October 23, 2006)


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