Sudan defends decision to expel two United Nations officials

KHARTOUM - Sudan defended on Friday its decision to expel two senior UNDP officials and urged the world body to respect Sudanese sovereignty, worsening tensions with the United Nations.
Sudan ordered Ali Al-Za'tari, resident coordinator at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and Yvonne Helle, the UNDP's country director, to leave the country, the UN said on Thursday, a move condemned by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Last month, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir called for peacekeepers from UNAMID, the joint UN-African Union Mission in Darfur, to leave.
On Friday, foreign ministry spokesman Yousef al-Kordofani said the government decided to expel Za'atri, a Jordanian, because of comments he made in an interview with a Norwegian newspaper that appeared to criticize the Sudanese people.
Helle was expelled for several reasons, Kordofani told Reuters, including what the government saw as her high-handed manner and for cutting programs without due consultation.
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