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Sudan cleared from future terrorism lawsuits in US

December 23 - 2020 WASHINGTON / KHARTOUM
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Sudanese PM Abdallah Hamdok during his visit to Sudan in August (SUNA)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Sudanese PM Abdallah Hamdok during his visit to Sudan in August (SUNA)

US Congress passed a bill on Monday reinstating Sudan’s sovereign immunity and preventing future legal procedures against the country for attacks on Americans that the ousted Al Bashir regime supported. Pending court cases filed by victims of the September 11 attacks are excluded from the bill.

As part of the ‘Sudan Claims Resolution Act’, Sudan will also receive $1.1 billion of direct and indirect aid. The US will contribute $111 million to pay off part of Sudan’s bilateral debt, $120 million to help pay off its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and another $150 million to reimburse compensations paid to victims of the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

The Sudanese Ministry of Justice said in a statement that the US will also provide a $1 billion bridge loan to help clear Sudan's debts to the World Bank.

Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok congratulated the Sudanese people. In a tweet on Twitter he said: “Now the transitional government has fulfilled one of its biggest promises to our people.” In a separate tweet he described the US bill as “a very big step in the development of foreign relations that serve the political and economic interests of our people”.

In a statement, the Ministry of Justice said that the decision marks Sudan’s “return to its normal state as a country with sovereign immunity”. The ministry said that this opens the door to economic and financial cooperation with the United States and other countries, without fear that its funds and properties will be confiscated or seized as a result of judicial rulings in the US related to terrorism.

The ministry explained that court cases related to the September 11 attack were excluded from the bill because two senators who were influenced by lawyers representing families of the victims insisted on that.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decided yesterday to cancel the restrictions imposed on the entry of Sudanese civilian and military officials into the US. These restrictions had been in place since 1996. The State Department said that the decision was the result of the change in US foreign policy towards Sudan following the installation of the civilian-led Sudanese transitional government last year.

Last week, US President Donald Trump removed Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Sudan and the US signed a bilateral claims settlement at the beginning of November to resolve “default judgements and claims based on allegations that Sudan’s prior regime supported acts of terrorism”.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Sudan at the end of August. He linked support for the civilian-led Sudanese government to normalisation of Sudan’s relations with Israel.

US Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin will visit Sudan on January 6. Maha Ayoub, Director of the American Affairs Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Mnuchin will meet chairman of Sudan's Sovereign Council Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, and officials from the ministries of Finance, Irrigation and Social Affairs. She said that Mnuchin is expected to discuss, among other things, the economic situation in Sudan, US aid, and the debt relief.

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