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UN Envoy to Sudan Heads to New York After Expulsion


The top U.N. envoy in Sudan is returning to New York for consultations after being expelled from the country for saying Sudanese forces in Darfur are in disarray. The envoy retains Secretary-General Kofi Annan's confidence.

U.N. special envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk is due at U.N. headquarters Wednesday to discuss his future with Secretary-General Annan.

Pronk was ordered to leave Khartoum Sunday, after he posted an entry on his Internet weblog saying Sudan's armed forces had been badly beaten in two recent battles with rebels in Darfur, suffering heavy casualties. The entry reported troop morale had sunk, and several commanders had been fired.

The weblog has embarrassed U.N. officials. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric last Friday emphasized that the views expressed are Pronk's, and do not reflect those of the U.N. or Secretary-General Annan.

Dujarric Monday refused to characterize Pronk's departure from Khartoum as an expulsion. He said the envoy is returning for consultations, and retains Mr. Annan's full confidence.

He said, "The secretary-general has asked Mr. Pronk to come back, and Mr. Pronk will have discussions with the Secretary-General and other senior officials when he's here. But what needs to be clearly stated is that he continues to be the special representative of the secretary general in serving with the full support of the secretary-general in that capacity."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday denounced Pronk's expulsion, calling it "unfortunate in the extreme." She said she would discuss the issue with Secretary-General Annan.

In Khartoum Sunday, Pronk said Sudanese authorities had given him a letter addressed to Secretary-General Annan, saying the government considers his mission 'terminated.' He was given 72 hours to leave.

Pronk is a 66-year-old former Dutch Cabinet minister. He has been a powerful presence as Mr. Annan's special envoy, speaking frankly about the violence in Darfur, which the United States and others describe as genocide.

Pronk has sharply criticized Khartoum for allowing Arab militias known as janjaweed to carry out ethnic cleansing operations in the vast western Sudanese region. He has described internally displaced people in Darfur as "victims of Arab racism."

Sudanese officials last week accused Pronk of "waging psychological warfare on the armed forces." They called information on the envoy's Web site "erroneous," and said it had cast doubt on the ability of the Sudanese armed forces to defend the country.

The conflict in Darfur has raged since early 2003, when rebels attacked government positions, complaining the Khartoum government was neglecting them. Human rights groups say the fighting has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced two-million others from their homes.