US will keep pressure on Sudan


The United States will test the commitment of Sudan’s transitional government to human rights, freedom of speech and humanitarian access before it agrees to remove the country from a state sponsor of terrorism list, a senior US official said.

The State Department official, speaking to reporters on background, said Sudan’s new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok would be the main point of contact, US diplomats would interact with General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commonly known as Hemedti, outgoing deputy chief of the military council who heads a paramilitary group.

“Prime Minister Hamdok said all the right things so we look forward to engaging with him,” the State Department official said. “This government has shown a commitment so far. We are going to keep testing that.”

Hamdok, an economist, was sworn in last week as leader of a transition government, vowing to stabilise the country and end its economic crisis.

The official said the new government emphasised in recent talks with US officials it wanted the country removed from the terrorism sponsor list, which limits Sudan’s access to international financing, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Hamdok, who worked for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, told Reuters he was seeking up to $10 billion in foreign funding over two years to cover Sudan’s import bill and help it rebuild.

“It is an obstacle right now,” the official acknowledged referring to US sanctions, adding: “It will take time to work through but we are committed. We want to have a positive dialogue with this civilian government.”

Sudan was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 under former US President Bill Clinton, cutting it off from financial markets and strangling its economy.

Washington lifted a 20-year trade embargo against Sudan in 2017 and was discussing removing it from the U.S. list when the military stepped in on April 11 to depose veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 30 years.

Mounting public anger over shortages of food, fuel and hard currency triggered demonstrations that forced Bashir from power in April.

The Trump administration suspended talks on normalising relations and demanded the military hand power to a civilian government.