Sudan requests AU to renew efforts towards lifting of sanctions

UPDATED 21:15 The head of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, received the Sudanese Foreign Minister Prof Ibrahim Ghandour in Addis Ababa on Saturday. Ghandour stressed the importance of the AU’s renewed efforts towards the lifting of sanctions imposed on his country.

The head of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, received the Sudanese Foreign Minister Prof Ibrahim Ghandour in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

The FM briefed Dlamini Zuma on the impact of the unilateral sanctions imposed on Sudan, the efforts being deployed by the Sudanese government regarding the preparations for the National Dialogue announced by President Al Bashir in January 2014, the situation in Darfur, and the implementation status of the 2012 Cooperation Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan.

Dlamini Zuma seized the opportunity to reiterate the AU’s continued commitment to assist the Sudanese stakeholders overcome the many challenges confronting their country, and said that progress in addressing the conflicts facing Sudan would greatly facilitate the efforts being undertaken by the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

According to the AU press statement on the meeting on Saturday, Ghandour stressed the importance of the Union’s renewed efforts towards the lifting of sanctions imposed on his country. The AU Commission head recalled that the AU has regularly called for the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Sudan.

He also called for the early completion of the exit strategy for the joint AU-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (Unamid), and reiterated the commitment of the Sudanese authorities to ensure the successful holding of the National Dialogue, including by facilitating the participation of all stakeholders.

The chairwoman acknowledged the need to develop an exit strategy for Unamid. She said that “such a strategy should be conceived and implemented in a manner that does not jeopardise the gains made since the deployment of the operation”.

Regarding the National Dialogue, she underlined the imperative of ensuring that “the process leading to this crucial event is conducted in a transparent and inclusive manner, so as to meet the expectations of all sections of the Sudanese society”.

The quest for peace in South Sudan featured prominently in the discussions, the statement reads. Both the AU chairwoman and the FM emphasised the urgency of ending the conflict, through the conclusion of an agreement by the set deadline of 17 August. 

Dlamini Zuma further called for “sustained efforts to implement the outstanding aspects of the 2012 Cooperation Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan, and pledged the AU’s continued commitment to assist the parties in this respect. 

US sanctions against Sudan

Sudan has been on the list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1993. Washington has imposed economic sanctions on the country since 24 April 1996, when President Bill Clinton signed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which banned Americans from engaging in any financial transactions with governments on the US list of terrorism sponsors, including Sudan.

More than a year later, on 4 November 1997, Washington imposed broad sanctions against Sudan by executive order. The action blocked all Sudanese government assets in the USA and barred all trade as well as a wide range of financial transactions with Sudan.

In April 1999, the USA adjusted its sanctions policy and exempted the exports of agricultural goods, medicine and medical equipment from the unilateral sanctions. No US financing would be allowed for the sales, but Sudan could be able to buy US food.

President Bush signed the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act on 13 October 2006, which calls on the president to block the property of, and prohibits transactions with designated individuals and entities associated with Sudan’s government.

In October 2009, President Obama announced a new comprehensive policy towards Sudan that encompasses possibly lifting sanctions and removing the country from the State Department’s state sponsor of terrorism list. The policy’s three priorities are: implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005, ending the conflict in Darfur, and ensuring that Sudan does not become a safe haven for international terrorists. The policy also specifies that relations will not be normalised unless progress is made on all the issues.

Certain restrictions on licensing regulations in the agricultural sector and restrictions on spare parts for trains were removed in September 2010.

This year Washington eased sanctions on some technologies exported to Sudan. In February the US Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) announced that it amended Sudan’s sanctions regime to allow exports of personal communications hardware and software including smart phones and laptops. The USA-based search engine Google announced on 17 July that it has expanded access to free applications on Google Play to users in Sudan for the first time.

Black market

According to experts, the scarcity of hard currency in Sudan as a result of the US economic sanctions has significantly contributed to the rise of the black market exchange rate that soared to almost SDG10 last week, Sudan Tribune reported on Sunday. The official exchange rate lies around SDG6.1. 

Sudan Tribune cited Sudanese economists saying that the government is the largest buyer from the black market, including the Central Bank and other government institutions. 

In September 2010, the Central Bank of Sudan announced that the lack of hard currency was becoming acute. The situation worsened after South Sudan seceded in July 2011, by which Sudan lost two-thirds of its oil resources that provided most of the required hard currency.