KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudan said Friday it ordered two top United Nations officials to leave Khartoum for “insulting” the country and being “prejudiced” against its government.
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Ali Zaatari and UN Development Programme Country Director Yvonne Helle were told to leave, in a move criticised by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who urged Khartoum to reverse the decision. But the foreign ministry said it ordered Zaatari, a Jordanian national, to leave for “insulting the Sudanese people and its political leadership in an interview with a Norwegian newspaper”.
In early December, a website close to Sudan’s security apparatus said that Zaatari had criticised President Omar al-Bashir’s government in an interview published by the Norwegian publication Bistandsaktuelt.
The Sudan Media Centre quoted Zaatari as saying that the Sudanese “rely on humanitarian aid that we give them” and that he was “forced” to work with Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in the western Darfur region.
Zaatari confirmed he had been interviewed by Bistandsaktuelt, but denied he had made the comments attributed to him.
Helle, a Dutch national, was expelled, the foreign ministry said on Friday, because she was “strongly prejudiced against the Sudanese government” and “treated Sudanese officials with arrogance”.