Sudan officially removed from USA list of State Sponsors of Terrorism
Yesterday, USA Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially announced the removal of Sudan from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) after 30 years of sanctions.
A statement by the USA State Department called the removal ‘a fundamental change’ in the bilateral relationship between Sudan and the United States of America towards increasing cooperation and support for the historical democratic transition in Sudan.
The statement added that this achievement was made possible because of the efforts made by the civilian-led transitional government of Sudan in charting a bold new course away from the legacy of the Bashir regime towards civilian-led democratic governance.
The statement also praised the Sudanese people for their calls for freedom, peace, and justice and congratulated members of the civilian-led transitional government for their courage in promoting the aspirations of their citizens.
Yesterda, the US embassy in Khartoum stated on its Facebook page that “the 45-day congress notification period has passed and the Foreign Minister has signed a notice that the cancellation of Sudan’s classification as a State Sponsor of Terrorism is effective, starting today, December 14”.
Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan and Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ welcomed the decision. They consider it a positive step that could contribute to improving the country’s situation.
The ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice, and the Bank of Sudan, also welcomed the decision.
Several countries congratulated Sudan on its removal from the SST, including the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. Following the announcement, the exchange rate of the Sudanese Pound against the dollar on the parallel market fell from SDG 270 to SDG 253*.
Economist Dr Sidgi Kabalo said in an interview with Radio Dabanga that the decision represents a historic opportunity for the Sudanese government, as long as they are prepared for it. He said that the decision will increase the countries’ economic competitiveness because it enables Sudan to begin international trade and restore financial relations with markets in Western Europe and America, especially with regards to export commodities such as, oil, gold, grains, gum Arabic, and cotton.
Kabalo also explained that the decision allows the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to work with Sudan without any restrictions. It also allows Sudan to reach out to the Paris Club* for debt relief.
Minister of Finance, Heba Mohamed, said that this decision exempts Sudan from debts amounting to more than $ 60 billion. She added that it ‘‘opens the door’’ for international investments as it allows financial transfers to and from Sudan through official financial and banking institutions.
She expects that the decision will help in providing the necessary support for several major national companies and initiatives, such as Sudan Airways or railways, and enabling investment in Sudan's natural, agricultural, and mineral resources.
In similar fashion, the Central Bank of Sudan said in a statement that the decision will encourage foreign investments in various forms and help the reintegration of Sudan into the regional and international economic system.
The bank also explained that the decision will help the flow of transfers through Sudanese banks, facilitating the recovery of export revenues and transfers or savings of Sudanese working abroad.
The Ministry of Justice said in a statement that the ministry is continuing efforts to negotiate with their American partners and legislative institutions to develop legislation that would strengthen bilateral relations in the future.
The ministry is assessing the legal consequences of this transition concerning the cases that were started against the Sudanese government during the period in which the Al Bashir regime was in power. The ministry insist that this assessment constitutes a completely separate process from Sudan’s removal from the SST list.
In November, 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.
In exchange, 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 bilateral agreement followed US President Donald Trump’s announcement to congress that Sudan’s designation as an SST would be removed. A move that was eagerly and cautiously awaited by Sudan. The agreement was called a “historic step” in the normalisation of relations between Sudan and the US by the Ministry of Justice.
The official announcement of Sudan's removal from the list coincided with a joint statement by Sudan, the US, and Israel that the leaders agreed to the normalisation of relations between Sudan and Israel and “to end the state of belligerence between their nations.” The move caused disputes among political parties in Sudan over the executive power of the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers to make such a decision.
* The Paris Club are a group of countries whose role is to find co-ordinated and sustainable solutions to payment difficulties experienced by debtor countries. Its secretariat is in Paris.
* USD 1 = SDG 55.1375 at the time of posting, according to the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the CBoS. Effective foreign exchange rates however can vary widely on Sudan’s parallel market, where the greenback is currently selling for around SDG 257.
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