Sudan’s prime minister held useful talks with US officials while at the United Nations last week and was hopeful Khartoum could reach an agreement to be removed from Washington’s state-sponsored terrorism list “soon.”
Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, was appointed in August as leader of a transition government, vowing to stabilise the country and repair an economy battered by years of US sanctions and government mismanagement during Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year rule.
Sudan has so far been unable to tap the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for support because the United States still lists the country as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“Coming to the General Assembly provided us with an opportunity to meet leaders in the American administration,” Hamdok told reporters after a high-level event to drum up support for his country at the annual gathering of world leaders.
“We had a useful discussion on state- sponsored terrorism. We hope as we move forward we will be able to soon conclude an agreement that would allow Sudan to be delisted.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed support at the Sudan event, on the sidelines of the General Assembly, for Hamdok’s efforts. He called for the immediate removal of “Sudan’s designation as a terrorist-supporting state and lifting all economic sanctions and mobilising financial support for development to make current political gains durable.”
Shortages of bread, fuel and medicine coupled with price rises sparked protests that led to the toppling of Bashir in April.
The transitional government will need US support to address debt issues and attract investment. It will launch a nine-month economic rescue plan in October aimed at curbing rampant inflation while ensuring supplies of basic goods. It is also asking the World Bank for $2 billion.
“The new Sudan upholding governance and democracy is not a threat to any nation in the world,” Hamdok said.
A senior US official said Washington would test the commitment of Sudan’s new transitional government to human rights, freedom of speech and humanitarian access before it agrees to remove the country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Sudan was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 under then-US President Bill Clinton, cutting it off from financial markets and strangling its economy, over allegations Bashir’s Islamist government supported terrorism, notably attacks in Kenya and Tanzania.
Washington lifted a 20-year trade embargo against Sudan in 2017 and was in the process of discussions on removing it from the US list when the military stepped in to depose Bashir.
The Trump administration suspended talks on normalising relations with Sudan and demanded the military hand power to a civilian government.
A senior European diplomat said the US government considered the new government had to assume the responsibilities of the previous administration.
“I don’t think the Americans are ready yet. They still think today’s Sudan must pay for the crimes of yesterday’s Sudan when it comes to legal cases related to the terrorist attacks in Nairobi or Dar es Salaam,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“It’s hard on the Sudanese, so the key is finding a formula to resolve this,” the diplomat said. “If we can unlock that it will open the door for the whole transitional process.”