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Sanctions lifted: Little to celebrate “unless Sudan changes internal politics”

October 10 - 2017 KHARTOUM
Dr Sidgi Kaballo, a Sudanese economist (file photo)
Dr Sidgi Kaballo, a Sudanese economist (file photo)

The lifted trade embargo on Sudan by the United States generated reactions from economists, MPs and political parties, stressing that Khartoum has little to celebrate unless it changes internal policies. “The most damaging sanctions are still in place.”

“The lifting of sanctions has given the government a false sense of victory,” said Sudanese economist Dr Sidgi Kaballo. “Unless the government's internal politics change in terms of security and rule of law, the lifting will not lead to any change that would attract foreign investment.”

On Tuesday he said in an interview with Radio Dabanga that the now permanent revocation of sanctions may make many parties seek to coordinate with the government of Sudan to come to invest. “But full confidence in the government depends on its internal policy, security, rule of law and fighting corruption which are important issues on which the investor decides to come to Sudan.”

On Sunday, the British Embassy in Khartoum said in a statement that British investment and trade officials arrived in Khartoum that day for talks on investment and trade exchange between the two countries.

Kaballo believes that Khartoum is not capable of making changes that improve the lives of people in Sudan. “The Sudanese expect low prices, improved incomes, good health and education and all these issues need to be changed in the government's internal policies, but the regime is unable to make the necessary changes.”

“Sudan is not allowed to receive food aid” - Economist Sidgi Kaballo

The US decision did not include the removal of Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism -to which it was added in 1993- which means that restrictions on debt relief, receiving foreign aid, or the sale of arms are still in place.

Kaballo: “Sudan cannot receive any food aid from the United States outside the humanitarian aid, and it also means the government will not be able to buy any military equipment goods or goods of common military, civilian or any other goods that could be involved in the manufacture of weapons.”

'Act rationally'

Members of Parliament have called on the government to act rationally after the trade embargo was lifted. “This will not solve the problem of the economy before imbalances and economic distortions in the balance of trade are answered to,” said MP El Tijani Sese, the head of National Liberation and Justice Party.

“Khartoum has to deal with the imbalances of trade and the neglect of the traditional agricultural and pastoral sector,” he said in a parliamentary session on Monday. MP Abu El Gasim Burtom asked the government to allow more freedoms in Sudan, observe its human rights record, fight corruption and activate an anti-corruption commission.

The National Umma Party stressed that the joy of the Sudanese government about the lifting of sanctions – “as if it would positively reflect on the people's lives the next day” – needs serious work by the government.

Mohamed El Mahdi Hasan, the head of the political bureau of the National Umma Party, told Radio Dabanga that the most damaging sanctions against Sudan are still in place. “They are the three acts by the US Congress, which are not submitted by the US President and require the approval of Congress, in addition to the decision to keep Sudan's name on the list of countries that support terrorism.”

Hasan also pointed to the sanctions that are still imposed by the United Nations, represented in dozens of resolutions issued by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII. “All of which hinder all kinds of cooperation with the international community.”


On Friday, the United States lifted 20-year-old economic sanctions on Sudan “in recognition of the Government of Sudan's sustained positive actions to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan, improve humanitarian access throughout Sudan, and maintain cooperation with the US on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism”. The US State Department added that further normalisation in the bilateral relations with Sudan requires “continued progress” by the Sudanese government.

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