Sudan economic crisis: Khartoum to close 17 diplomatic missions
The Sudanese government plans to close 17 diplomatic missions following failure to pay the salaries of its diplomats for more than seven months.
In a presidential decree released on Wednesday evening, President Omar Al Bashir ordered the closure of 13 embassies and four consulates.
The official Sudan News Agency SUNA reported on Thursday that all economic and commercial attaché sections will be shut as well. The diplomatic post in Abu Dhabi which is preparing for Sudan’s participation in the Expo 2020, will be closed after the event.
The Presidency also decided to significantly cut on the personnel at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other foreign posts. The administrative staff will be cut by 20 per cent. Added to a previous reduction of 30 per cent, the total reduction of foreign affairs staff in Sudan and abroad will be 50 per cent.
The downsizing of the diplomatic corps is caused by the economic and financial crises in the country. The problems came to light on April 19 when President Al Bashir dismissed Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, a day after the minister accused the Central Bank of Sudan of not releasing the salaries for diplomats abroad for seven months.
Ghandour had asked the Sudanese Parliament for help in paying the salaries and the rent for the embassy buildings. The total amount would reportedly be less than $ 30 million.
The financial problems are also forcing Khartoum to rethink its military spending. Minister of Defence, General Ahmed Ibn Auf, told the Sudanese Parliament on Wednesday that the government is reconsidering its membership in the Saudi-led alliance in the war in Yemen.
Dr Hasan Bashir, Professor of Economics at the University of El Nilein, told Radio Dabanga on Thursday that the financial impact of Sudan’s participation in the Yemeni war since 2015 is not clear. The details of the operation are still confidential, he said. He also pointed to the weak contribution of the Gulf countries in the alliance, in terms of investments.
Opposition against Sudan’s involvement in the Yemeni war is growing, not only because of the expenses but also because of the death of dozens of Sudanese troops in the battles.
Last Sunday, independent members of the Sudanese parliament called on President Omar Al Bashir to withdraw the country’s forces from Yemen. “Dispatching Sudanese army soldiers and members of the Rapid Support Forces [Sudan’s main militia] is an unconstitutional measure, and carried out without having been remitted to the Parliament,” they said in a statement.
The Reform Now Movement, a rightist opposition party, considers the presence of Sudanese forces in Yemen as unjustified and contrary to the Constitution, and has demanded their immediate withdrawal from the war.
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