“I was very careful … What I wrote was an open secret,” Jan Pronk told the private BNR Nieuwsradio radio station in his native Netherlands on Tuesday after leaving the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
The Sudanese military had accused Pronk of “waging psychological warfare on the armed forces by propagating erroneous information” in the form of reports that Sudanese government forces suffered major losses against Darfur rebels.
Pronk, who received support on Tuesday from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said the reports he had mentioned on his website had also been published in Sudanese newspapers.
“The key thing is that a peace agreement has been signed on Darfur,” he said. “But the [Sudanese] army is taking no notice of it and is trying to win a military victory regardless.
“That’s what I’ve been denouncing, for several months now. And that’s what they don’t like.”
In New York, where Pronk was headed for consultations, a spokesman for Annan said the secretary-general had confidence in his envoy.
“We are recalling him temporarily for consultations. His status remained unchanged,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
About 200,000 people have been killed and around two and a half million have been forced from their homes in two years of revolt in Darfur.
Pro-government militias are accused of war crimes against the region’s Christian and animist population.
The Darfur conflict has displaced
Pronk, a former Dutch diplomat, wrote on October 14 that government forces had lost “two major battles” in Darfur where they have been fighting the region’s ethnic African population.
“Losses seem to have been very high. Reports speak about hundreds of casualties in each of the two battles, many wounded soldiers and many taken as prisoner,” Pronk wrote.
“The morale in the government army in north Darfur has gone down. Some generals have been sacked; soldiers have refused fighting.”
Despite Annan’s expression of support for Pronk, a UN diplomat who was speaking on condition of anonymity said the Dutch official had put the world body in a bind.
On the other hand, Dujarric, queried about Pronk’s blog comments, said they reflected his “personal views”.
As to the propriety of having a senior UN official sound off on policy matters in a personal blog, he replied: “Staff regulations have not kept up with technology.”
The European Union voiced deep concern and stressed that “the United Nations plays a key role which must be reinforced”.
Pronk has long been a thorn in the side of the Khartoum government.
He has openly called Sudan a “police state” and said refugees in Darfur were victims of “Arabic racism”.