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UN summit: Sudan coup leader says war could spread

Published September 21, 2023last updated September 22, 2023

Sudan's army chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, appealed to UN General Assembly delegates to counter supporters of the army's rival Rapid Support Forces. Follow DW for more.

Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan Abdelrahman Al-Burhan, President of the Transitional Sovereign Council of Sudan
Burhan has increasingly traveled on diplomatic efforts seen as efforts to underline his legitimacyImage: Craig Ruttle/AP/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Sudan's military coup leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has likened external backing for paramilitary forces in his own country to "a spark of war" that would spill over in the region.
  • Guinea's junta leader told the General Debate that the "real putschists" were "those who cheat to manipulate the text of the constitution in order to stay in power eternally" — seemingly referring to the man he ousted more than two years ago.
  • Chinese Vice President Han Zheng warns others not to underestimate the strength of its will when it comes to Taiwan.
  • German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has discussed the expansion of the UN Security Council with members of the "G4" grouping. 
Skip next section Baerbock says UN needs wide-ranging reform
September 22, 2023

Baerbock says UN needs wide-ranging reform

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has urged the international community to revamp the United Nations with far-reaching reforms. 

"It is evident that in order to continue fulfilling its mission for future generations, the United Nations needs an upgrade," Baerbock told a preparatory meeting for the UN Future Summit planned for September 2024.

The summit aims to update and reinvigorate multilateral institutions in line with the contemporary world.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has given Germany's UN chief Antje Leendertse the job of planning the Future Summit — to lay the foundation for a comprehensive reorientation of the UN — in late 2024. 

Baerbock went on to attend a meeting of representatives of the G4, comprising Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan — four countries that support each other's bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.

Earlier, Charles Michel, the president of the European Council of EU leaders, told the General Assembly that UN permanent Security Council member Russia's invasion of Ukraine had exposed a desperate need to reform the "sclerotic and hobbled" global decision-making at the UN.

Skip next section China warns of its 'strong will' on Taiwan
September 22, 2023

China warns of its 'strong will' on Taiwan

Chinese Vice President Han Zheng has warned others not to underestimate the strength of its feelings about reunification with Taiwan, which it considers an "inalienable part" of China.

However, he told the United Nations General Assembly that Beijing preferred peaceful means to bring the self-governing island back into its fold.

"No one should ever underestimate the firm resolve, strong will, and the power of the Chinese people to safeguard their sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said.

China-Taiwan conflict: How it could ruin the global economy

"Realizing China's complete reunification is a shared aspiration of all the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation," he said. "We will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort."

Only a few foreign nations give official diplomatic recognition to Taipei. While the US has formal ties with China, it does maintain a representative office in Taiwan and supplies weapons to the island, around which Beijing has staged repeated military exercises.

Taiwan and the rest of China split in 1949 when the Communists took control of the mainland during a civil war. The losing Nationalists fled to Taiwan.

Skip next section Sudan army chief warns conflict could spill over in region
September 21, 2023

Sudan army chief warns conflict could spill over in region

Sudanese army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has warned that months of war could spill over in the region as he urged international pressure against the paramilitary unit he is fighting.

Burhan, de facto ruler of Sudan since a 2021 coup, alluded to the rival Rapid Support Forces' ties with Russian mercenary group Wagner. 

The group has been hit by Western sanctions over alleged abuses in Africa.
He said the fact that rebels had sought the support of outlaws and terrorist groups was like a spark of war.

He said it was "crystal clear" there was regional and international interference to support these groups.

War broke out on April 15 after the collapse of a plan to integrate the army and the Rapid Support Forces, led by Burhan's former deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

Amnesty: War crimes widespread in Sudan

The fighting in Sudan has killed at least 7,500 people, according to the NGO Acled, and displaced some five million people.

Burhan has increasingly been traveling around the world in what are seen as efforts to burnish his legitimacy.

Skip next section Abbas: Middle East peace only possible when Palestinians have 'full rights'
September 21, 2023

Abbas: Middle East peace only possible when Palestinians have 'full rights'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the General Debate that Middle East peace would not be attainable until Palestinians were granted "full rights" as part of any future deal. 

Abbas was speaking as Israel moves to normalize ties with a string of countries that long refused to hold formal diplomatic relations with the country. 

The most recent such deal seemingly in the works would be between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

"Those who think that peace can prevail in the Middle East without the Palestinian people enjoying their full, legitimate national rights would be mistaken," Abbas said in his speech, albeit without identifying anyone explictly. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday held talks with US President Joe Biden and Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, and said that the process was getting "closer." 

Abbas, 87, again appealed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to call an international conference on creating a Palestinian state. 

A UN conference "may be the last opportunity to salvage the two-state solution and to prevent the situation from deteriorating more seriously and threatening the security and stability of our region and the entire world," he said. 

Skip next section Guinea junta leader defends 2021 coup
September 21, 2023

Guinea junta leader defends 2021 coup

The leader of Guinea's junta defended on Thursday the 2021 coup, telling the UN General Assembly that global leaders should "look to and address the deep-rooted causes" of Africa's recent coups rather than condemning them.

Some eight West and Central African countries have experienced coups in the past three years, drawing wide international condemnation and concern for the continent's stability.

"The putschist is not only the person who takes up arms to overthrow a regime," said Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya. "I want us all to be well aware of the fact that the real putschists, the most numerous, are those who avoid any condemnation — they are those who cheat to manipulate the text of the constitution in order to stay in power eternally."

Doumbouya was sworn in as Guinea's interim president following the coup. He defended the 2021 overthrow of President Alpha Conde, saying it was done to prevent the country from "slipping into complete chaos."

Doumboya claimed after ousting Conde that "poverty and endemic corruption" had driven his decision. Conde had enacted constitutional reforms in 2020 which paved the way for a third term in office later that year. The former president was accused of corruption and human rights violations and had seen waning popularity.

Doumbouya also said, after moving to foster better ties with Russia having taken power and facing criticism from France and others for this, that it was no longer fair to consider African countries as part of the spheres of influence of other major powers.

"We Africans are insulted by the boxes, the categories which sometimes place us under the influence of the Americans, sometimes under that of the British, the French, the Chinese and the Turks," the Guinean leader said, omitting Russia from his list.

"Today, the African people are more awake than ever and more than ever determined to take their destiny into their own hands."

Guinea's junta leaders are currently under sanctions after the military dissolved the government and other institutions following Conde's overthrow.

Conde had enacted constitutional reforms in 2020 which paved the way for a third term in office later that year. The former president was accused of corruption and human rights violations and had seen waning popularity.

Skip next section Trudeau urges Indian cooperation in Sikh murder probe
September 21, 2023

Trudeau urges Indian cooperation in Sikh murder probe

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempted to de-escalate a diplomatic row with India over the killing of a Sikh separatist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, near the Canadian city of Vancouver in June, calling on India to cooperate with the investigation into the Sikh leader's murder.

anada has said this week what India was involved in the murder, a claim New Delhi has rejected as "absurd."

Speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, Trudeau stressed his government was "not looking to provoke or cause problems."

"There is no question that India is a country of growing importance and a country that we need to continue to work with," he said during a press conference. But we are unequivocal around the importance of the rule of law and unequivocal about the importance of protecting Canadians."

India's Foreign Ministry said that Ottowa had not shared specific information about the murder. Trudeau on Thursday sidestepped a question on whether Canada plans to do that in the future, citing the country's "independent justice system" as a reference.

Skip next section Serbian President Vucic says discussions with Kosovo a 'monologue'
September 21, 2023

Serbian President Vucic says discussions with Kosovo a 'monologue'

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic criticized the discussions his country is holding with neighboring Kosovo, which gained independence from Serbia in 2008, as "more like a monologue, not a dialogue."

Addressing the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Vuvic criticized what he said were violations by the government of Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti against Serbian nationals. He also criticized Western countries for what he suggested was bias against his country.

Speaking about recent clashes between Serbs and local security forces, Vuvic said that even when none of those wounded were Albanian, "Guess what? It is the fault, always, of both sides."

Vucic compared Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year to Western countries' support to Kosovo's unilateral secession, which Belgrade does not formally recognize.

"They forgot that they themselves had used the same narrative, the same words and the same explanations," he said.

Relations between Serbia and Kosovo have been tense since the war in 1998-99 in which more than 10,000 people were killed. The EU has been trying for years to broker an agreement between the two neighbors. 

Though Vucic stressed Serbia's support to Ukraine's integrity, "because we do not change our politics, we do not change our principles," he also said that Belgrade would not "cut our important and historical ties with the Russian Federation."

Vucic said that Serbia "is on its EU accession path but at the same time is not ready to turn its back on traditional friendships it had been building for centuries."

Skip next section Niger diplomatic solution 'still possible,' Senegalese president says
September 21, 2023

Niger diplomatic solution 'still possible,' Senegalese president says

A diplomatic solution in Niger, where a military junta in July ousted elected President Mohamed Bazoum and named a new government, was "still possible," Senegalese President Macky Sall told the media on the sidelines of the General Assembly, which he is due to address.

"I hope that reason will ultimately prevail... that it is still possible to move forward reasonably to a solution," Sall said in an interview with France's RFI and France 24 media outlets.

He also urged the coup leaders "to not push [us] to the final decision which would be a military intervention."

Senegal is a member of the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, which has threatened to militarily intervene if the coup is not reversed.

"This last military option can only be done when, truly, all avenues would have been exhausted," he added.

ECOWAS at one point set a deadline for restoring Bazoum to power, hinting at intervention if it was not met. But the date ultimately passed without consequence.

Niger coup puts ECOWAS to the test

Skip next section CAR president blames migration crisis on the West
September 21, 2023

CAR president blames migration crisis on the West

The Central African Republic president blamed the West for triggering the migration crisis during his address at the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

"This escalation of the migrant crisis is one of the appalling consequences of the plundering of natural resources of countries made poor by slavery, colonization and Western imperialism, terrorism and internal armed conflicts," Faustin Archange Touadera said. 

He was particularly addressing the crisis on Italy's Lampedusa island, where the arrival of thousands of African migrants last week overwhelmed the local community and put the Italy's right-wing government and the European Union on crisis mode.

"These young people who symbolize the present and the future of our continent are desperately seeking to join the countries of the European continent in search of an El Dorado," Touadera said.

Touadera was one of the very first African leaders to reach out to Russia and specifically the mercenary Wagner Group to try to shore up domestic security amid major infighting between Muslim and Christian sectors of the population and after decades of violence and a total of six coups in the country since its independence in 1960. 

Addressing the same assembly on Wednesday, Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni blamed the crisis on migrant smugglers, arguing that Africa was a rich continent.

Skip next section Zelenskyy heads to Washington after UN address
September 21, 2023

Zelenskyy heads to Washington after UN address

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meanwhile moved on to Washington DC on Thursday, after addressing first the General Debate and then the Security Council in person.

Zelenskyy is scheduled to meet US President Joe Biden, as well as lawmakers and political meetings.

"Important meetings ahead," Zelenskyy posted on social media. "Last night, Russia launched another mass missile attack on Ukraine. I thank all of our rescuers for their immediate response."

The Ukrainian president said his meetings would prioritize air defense. 

"We must work together to fully deprive Russia of its terrorist potential," he said.

Zelenskyy will hold talks with Biden at the White House amid his push for fresh US assistance. He will also go to the Pentagon to consult with US military brass.

However, the most important part of the visit might be his private discussions with Democratic and Republican lawmakers of the House and Senate. 

The presidential election campaign is liable to dominate much of 2024 and could end up straining US focus on the conflict in Ukraine.

Skip next section German foreign minister meets with G4 to discuss Security Council expansion
September 21, 2023

German foreign minister meets with G4 to discuss Security Council expansion

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Thursday is meeting with fellow foreign ministers from the "G4" grouping of nations, comprising Germany, Brazil, Japan and India, all of which support each other's bids for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

US, China, Russia, Britain and France all have permanent seats, and expanding the Security Council is a topic that's been discussed on and off for decades. 

But it is broadly seen as a non-starter given the need for all five existing permanent members, often with competing interests, to find consensus on any potential reform.

Baerbock, Blinken stress continued support for Ukraine

On Wednesday, following a meeting of the Security Council at the UN General Assembly, Baerbock said that Germany could "imagine being a permanent member."

"But not out of self-interest, but in the course of a major modernization which, on the whole, takes greater account of the realities of the 21st century," she later added, referring to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In his opening address to the Security Council on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Germany should be granted a permanent seat, arguing that the country had become "one of the key guarantors of peace and security."

Poland said Thursday it opposes a permanent German seat on the Security Council, with Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak calling the suggestion from Zelenskyy a "great disappointment," while alleging that Germany had dithered on supporting Ukraine in the early days of Russia's invasion.  

Poland's conservative government has previously called for Germany to pay over $1 trillion in World War IIreparations. Warsaw is also in the midst of a dispute with Kyiv over grain exports at present

The Flip Side of the UN Security Council structure