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Ambassador Godfrey: ‘Civilian-led government key to greater US-Sudan cooperation’

August 25 - 2022 KHARTOUM
The newly appointed US Ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, taks his oath of office (Photo: US Embassy)
The newly appointed US Ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, taks his oath of office (Photo: US Embassy)

The newly appointed US Ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, says that the establishment of a civilian-led government is key to facilitating better US-Sudan cooperation. Ambassador Godfrey arrived in Khartoum to take-up office on yesterday as the first fully ranked US ambassador to the country in 25 years. On his first day in the post today, he met with Sudan’s acting Foreign Minister Dafallah El Haj Ali, for talks on US-Sudan relations.

In a statement after landing in Khartoum on Wednesday, Godfrey said that he is delighted to be in the country. “I look forward to deepening relations between Americans and Sudanese and to supporting the Sudanese people’s aspirations to freedom, peace, justice, and a transition to democracy”.

In subsequent statement via social media today, Godfrey says he met with acting Foreign Minister, Dafallah El Haj Ali, “to discuss deepening ties between the US and Sudanese peoples and the importance of establishing a new civilian-led government…”

Godfrey described this as “a key to facilitating greater government-to-government cooperation and greater US and international development assistance”. He says that “until then, the US remains committed to humanitarian aid”.

The US Senate confirmed John Godfrey as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the USA to Sudan in June. Sudan has been served by a deputy ambassador, making Godfrey the first fully ranked US ambassador to Sudan in 25 years.

The confirmation of Godfrey’s appointment coincided with a vote by the US Congress to overwhelmingly approve a draft resolution, condemning the October 25 military coup, and voicing support for the people of Sudan.

US-Sudan relations

After a distinct thaw in US-Sudan relations following the overthrow of the Al Bashir regime and a movement toward democratic transition, relations between Washington and Khartoum have been strained following the subsequent the military coup d’état of October 25 last year.

The USA suspended all aid to Sudan following the coup, staing that “the United States is pausing assistance from the $700 million in emergency assistance appropriations of Economic Support Funds for Sudan. Those funds were intended to support the country’s democratic transition as we evaluate the next step for Sudan programming.”

On May 11, the US Senate passed a draft resolution ”to condemn the military coup in Sudan and support the Sudanese people,” and the House of Commons also unanimously passed the non-binding resolution with a quick vote without any objections.

On March 23, the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a draft resolution condemning the military coup in Sudan and calling on the US administration to impose sanctions on those responsible for the coup.

The draft resolution came two days after the US Treasury imposed sanctions on the paramilitary Central Reserve Forces (popularly called Abu Teira) that stand under the command of the police, in accordance with the Global Magnitsky Act* on serious violations of human rights.

The Treasury listed the excessively violent repression of peaceful pro-democracy protests by the security forces as the main reason.

There have been wide calls for targeted US sanctions on the Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan and deputy Chairman Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo for their involvement in serious human rights abuses following the coup.

In March, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions on the Sudan Central Reserve Police (CRP, popularly known as Abu Tira) for serious human rights abuse yesterday. The Treasury listed the excessively violent repression of peaceful pro-democracy protests by the security forces as the main reason.

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against ‘Sudan companies with links to Hamas‘, with one financier, Hisham Younis Yahia Qafisheh, allegedly “operating and managing at least two Sudan-based companies, Agrogate Holding and Al Rowad Real Estate Development, in order to generate revenue for the Palestinian group.”

Bilateral agreement

In November 2020, Sudan and the US signed a bilateral claims settlement to resolve “default judgements and claims based on allegations that Sudan’s prior regime supported acts of terrorism”. According to the agreement, Sudan had to pay $335 million, on top of approximately $72 million already paid, for distribution to victims of terrorism.

Sudan’s removal from the SST list, decreed in the dying days of the Donald Trump administration, was conditional on a bilateral claims settlement signed in November 2020 to resolve “default judgements and claims based on allegations that Sudan’s prior regime supported acts of terrorism”. Sudan had to pay $335 million, on top of approximately $72 million already paid, for distribution to victims of terrorism.

In exchange, after payment of compensation to the families of the victims of the bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, and the 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Dar El Salaam in Tanzania and Nairobi in Kenya, the default judgments and claims against Sudan in US courts would be dismissed, and Sudan’s sovereign immunities under US law would be restored to those enjoyed by countries that have never been designated by the US as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST).

*The Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 authorises the US government to sanction foreign government officials worldwide who are deemed to be human rights offenders. Sanctions can include freezing their assets and banning them from entering the USA.


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