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Sudan Defends Expulsion of 2 UN Officials

  • James Butty

FILE - Sudanese President al-Bashir attends an African Union summit.

FILE - Sudanese President al-Bashir attends an African Union summit.

Sudan’s Minister of Information Ahmed Bilal said his government will not compromise on its sovereignty, and that Sudan will not allow outsiders to visit and disrespect its leaders and people without consequences.

Last week, Sudan expelled two UN officials -- Ali Al-Za'tari, resident coordinator at the UN Development Program and Yvonne Helle, the UNDP's country director.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the expulsions and called on Khartoum to “reverse its decision immediately.”

Bilal said Ban should not be quick to condemn Sudan without first knowing the reasons for the expulsions.

He said one of the officials made “insulting” comments about the Sudanese people and their leaders in comments to a foreign newspaper.

“Any diplomat, whether he is from a country or an organization, has to respect our people, the president, and the leaders, and they shouldn’t interfere in our affairs. So, if anybody goes beyond this and is not following his mandate of working in Sudan, we have to expel him,” he said.

Bilal said Ali Al-Za'tari made an “insulting announcement” to a Norwegian newspaper about Sudan.

“The official of the United Nations, Za'tari, has actually announced, or he declared, to a Norwegian newspaper an insulting announcement against our people and against the leadership of the country. And this is not his business. He shouldn’t do that. If anyone did that, whatever his situation, we are not going to accept that,” Bilal said.

“This is not the first time. We can’t expel people just like that without reasons, and he shouldn’t just try to condemn Sudan without listening to what are the reasons. He has to be fair and ask what the reasons are. And then we have to justify that,” Bilal continued.

Bilal denied the expulsions were in retaliation for a UN/African Union Mission in Darfur investigation of alleged mass sexual violence at Tabit town, North Darfur by the Sudanese army.

Bilal said, even if that was the case, the mass sexual rape at Tabit were merely allegations made to start what he called “another campaign” against Sudan, as was done against President Omar al-Bashir when he was indicted by the International Criminal Court.

“They did this in the cause of making a campaign just like the campaign they had done before when they came to the conclusion of genocide in Darfur. They start with such allegations and they build up these lies when they came to a figure that 300 people were killed, which is not correct, and that’s why the indictment happened to the president. Now, they are doing the same thing [with allegations] there is rape of 200,” Bilal said.

He said Sudan is a free country with “pride and dignity” and will not leave misconduct unpunished.

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