Newly appointed Sudanese President Abdalla Hamdock arrived in Paris on 30th September to appeal to President Emmanuel Macron for support in efforts to have Sudan removed from the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism. According to Africanews, Macron not only pledged France’s support to Sudan on the issue, but also announced the contribution of €60 million to aid in the country’s period of democratic transition. Several other international actors, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, have also expressed their support for Hamdock. However, the U.S. remains resolute on not yet committing to the removal.
At a press conference throughout his visit in Paris, Hamdock claimed peace within Sudan cannot be achieved without economic growth and stability. He stated the removal of Sudan from the United States’ list of states that support terrorism was a key factor in taking steps to achieve economic growth. “The economy and peace cannot go one way without the other. There will be no peace if the economy does not recover, and the economy will not recover if there is no peace. The Sudanese people have never supported terrorism, which was linked to the former regime.” In response, Macron stated; “We will of course continue to urge the United States to remove Sudan from the list of states that support terrorism, which will allow it to normalize its relations with international financial institutions. This is an essential battle and we will fully support you.” Hamdock was appointed leader of a transition government on 21st August. He has since been calling for debt relief from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to implement a nine-month economic rescue plan after years of US sanctions, and economic mismanagement under erstwhile leader Omar al-Bashir has rattled the country’s economy. His calls have been rebuked due to the United States’ continued inclusion of Sudan on their list of state sponsors of terrorism which limits opportunity for foreign investment. International mediators originally called for the removal of Sudan from the list upon initiating the constitutional declaration that eventually led to the installation of the current transitional government. However, Reuters reported that U.S. Under-Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale suggested action would not be taken until an improvement of conditions across human rights, religious freedom, and counter-terrorism efforts were witnessed. Renewed pressure upon the United States from members of the international community has not provoked any further action on the issue.
The U.S. added Sudan to its list of state sponsors in 1993, over allegations of terrorist support directed towards then-President al-Bashir’s Islamist government. Bashir was ousted on 11th April this year, after protests against inflation as well as food and medical shortages shifted focus majorly to regime change on the anniversary of the 1985 uprising that removed dictator Jaafar Mineiri. Following Bashir’s overthrow, Sudanese politician Lt Gen Awad Ibn Auf announced a three-month state of emergency, while the U.S government withdrew from discussions on normalizing relations with Sudan. A three-year transition period and government, led by Hamdock, has since been implemented in the lead up to official elections. Al Jazeera reporter, Rosiland Jordan, said in September it is unlikely the U.S. will return to discussions pending Sudan’s status, and inclusion on its list of state sponsors of terrorism, until official elections have been held and a new constitution has been formed.
The United States’ reluctance to withdraw punishment actioned against the past regime, not only risks stalling the progress made by protestors led by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the Transitional Military Council, and the joint military-civilian Sovereign Council set to govern Sudan in their transition to democratic rule, but effectively subjects the country to continued economic vulnerability, and an enduring risk of an outbreak of violence if economic stability cannot be achieved by the interim president. The people of Sudan cannot afford another three years of economic instability and political volatility. The ongoing conflict surrounding anti-Bashir protests has already displaced more than two million people, and led to civilian deaths prior to and following Bashir’s ousting. The U.S. must take action before official elections are held in three years’ time to minimize the risk of continued outbreaks of violence.
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