Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Top UN official under fire for blogging truth in Sudan

Excerpt from VOA News 23 Oct 2006:
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."

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."

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