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German professor named to head Sudan UN mission

Director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 January, 2021

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A German professor has been called in to lead the UN mission in Sudan.

German professor and political scientist Volker Perthes was nominated Thursday as United Nations Special Representative to Sudan, where he will lead the organization's new mission in that country, according to a statement from the UN.

The 62-year-old, who speaks fluent English and Arabic, was nominated by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres only four months after beginning his post as the senior advisor of Berlin's German Institute for International and Security Affairs in September.

Perthes previously worked for the UN's special envoy to Syria from 2015 to 2016 before taking several teaching positions in Germany and Libya.

"Mr. Volker Perthes brings to this position over 25 years of experience in academia, research, international relations and diplomacy, including with the United Nations, as well as deep expertise in conflict resolution and regional geopolitics," Guterres said in the statement.

Read more: A gateway to Africa: Russia's new naval base in Sudan

The position of UN representative to Sudan had been vacant since the June 2020 creation of the Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).

Following the December 31 end of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the Khartoum-based UNITAMS will work to support authorities through the political transition begun with the ouster of former president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

The country set up a joint military-civilian government in August 2019, which was given a three-year mandate to oversee this transition process.

Diplomatic sources said that Sudan's willingness to allow a Western head of UNITAMS - despite desires for African management of political affairs on the continent - is likely borne out of a hope to more easily gain international funding.

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