Sudan could be off terror sponsor list – US official


The United States will consider new ways to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism if it sees fundamental change in government and a commitment not to support terrorism, a State Department official said.

The US government added Sudan to its list of terrorism in 1993 over allegations then President Omar al-Bashir’s government was supporting terrorism. Islamist Bashir was toppled last week by the military after three decades in power.

Designation as a state sponsor of terrorism makes Sudan ineligible for desperately needed debt relief and financing from lenders including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“Sudan remains designated a state sponsor of terrorism (STT) and a foreign assistance and other restrictions remain in place,” said the official, responding to email questions.

The United States agreed in November to talks with Bashir’s government on getting Sudan off the list. No resolution was reached before his overthrow.

“A different statutory path to SST rescission may be available if there is  fundamental change in leadership and policies of the government of Sudan,” the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

Sudan is currently ruled by a Transitional Military Council (TMC) is working with opposition groups to form a civilian government. Protesters say they will not leave the streets until the TMC cedes power to an interim civilian body.

The State Department official said any new government must demonstrate it is not “supporting acts of international terrorism” and provide assurances “it will not support acts of international terrorism in future”.

Former Sudanese Defence Minister General Awad Ibn Auf, under US sanctions since 2007, stepped down as TMC chief on Friday, making way for General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, a career military officer. Ibn Auf remains on the sanctions list, according to the State Department official.

“We are not aware of any person targeted by UN or US sanctions in the TMC at present,” the official said. “The TMC is still being formed. We believe the presence of a designated individual would be problematic.”

Sudan’s economy has been laid low by sanctions, corruption and mismanagement. Consumer prices rose by 73% in 2018 and long queues at bakeries, petrol stations and cash machines are common.

Government finances were seriously damaged by loss of oil revenue when South Sudan seceded in 2011, although a near simultaneous increase in gold output reduced the blow.

In October 2017, the United States lifted separate trade and economic sanctions it imposed in 1997.

It kept in place the terrorism designation, associated with accusations Bashir-led Sudan backed anti-Israel Islamist militant groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah.