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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 October 2006, 00:04 GMT 01:04 UK
UN envoy Pronk to return to Sudan
Jan Pronk
Mr Pronk will return briefly to Khartoum to wind up his affairs
The UN envoy to Sudan is to return to Khartoum despite his recent expulsion from the country, the UN has announced.

A UN spokesman said Jan Pronk will remain as envoy until his contract expires at the end of the year.

Sudan demanded Mr Pronk leave the country after he wrote in his personal website that morale in the Sudanese army was low after defeats in Darfur.

Khartoum has made it clear it will not work with Mr Pronk, so his deputy will take on his duties.

Mr Pronk was given three days to leave Sudan on Sunday, and was recalled for consultations with his boss, Kofi Annan, in New York on Monday.

'Critical time' for Darfur

Mr Annan's spokesman told reporters on Friday that Mr Pronk had the UN chief's full backing.

"The secretary general has made it clear that he alone can decide on the tenure of his special representatives," Stephane Dujarric said.

But he made it clear that while Mr Pronk would be keeping his job as envoy until the end of the year, it would be his deputy who would actually be doing the work.

"However," Mr Dujarric continued, Kofi Annan "also realises that at a critical time in the Darfur negotiations it is important that we preserve a good working relationship with the government of Sudan and he is certain that the officer in charge, Taye Zerihoun, will be able to provide this."

1940 - Born in The Hague, Netherlands
1971 - Elected as Dutch MP
1985 -1986 Assistant UN secretary general
1998 - Dutch environment minister
2001 - Chairman of UN climate conference in Bonn, worked to secure agreement on Kyoto protocol
2002 - Special UN envoy to World Summit on Sustainable Development
2004 - UN special representative for Sudan
Married with two children

The diplomatic solution was reached after intensive discussions between New York and Khartoum, says the BBC's UN correspondent Laura Trevelyan.

Sudanese officials have repeatedly stated they will not work with Mr Pronk.

"To us Jan Pronk is history now," Sudan's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ali Karti told the BBC.

Sudan's ambassador to the UN was even more blunt:

"He is not going back to Sudan as the special representative of the secretary general. This decision is over," Abdalmahmood Mohamed said.

"He abused his authority, his mandate... He lost his impartiality and integrity and became part of the problem rather than part of the solution".

'Morale low'

Despite the strong words, it appears agreement was reached with the Sudanese for Mr Pronk to return briefly to Khartoum to wind up his affairs and hand over to his deputy, says our correspondent.

Mr Pronk infuriated the Sudanese government when he wrote two weeks ago that "morale in the government army in north Darfur has gone down. Some generals have been sacked; soldiers have refused to fight."

Map of Sudan showing Darfur
He said the Sudanese army had lost two major battles recently to rebel groups in the western region and that Arab militias - who have been accused of atrocities - were being mobilised in violation of UN resolutions.

The army accused him of waging "psychological warfare" and he was declared persona non grata by the authorities.

The BBC's UN correspondent says the row is a distraction from attempts to get a UN peacekeeping force into Darfur.

Sudan is resisting strong international pressure to replace an under-equipped and under-funded African Union force with UN troops.

Officials have called the effort a bid to restore colonial rule in Sudan.

More than 200,000 people are thought to have died and two million have been displaced as a result of the three-year conflict in Darfur, in the west of Sudan.

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