Donald Booth, the US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, is expected to hold talks with Sudanese officials on bilateral relations in Khartoum today.
The official Sudanese media agency Suna did not mention when Booth will arrive exactly or the period he will stay in the Sudanese capital. ‘The talks will deal with the bilateral relations between Sudan and the United States especially in the economic and commercial fields, and will discuss removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism as well as economic sanctions,’ Suna reported.
Booth’s visit is the first since nearly two years. In Washington in March 2014, he expressed hope that opportunities will arise from “the current turmoil in Sudan and South Sudan”, despite “horrendous conflicts that have continued and erupted over the past months”.
Sudan has been on the list of state sponsors of terrorism since 1993, and Washington has imposed economic sanctions on the country since 1997. Over the past years, the US has gradually eased the technical ban for some countries including Sudan. 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 over SDG10 this week.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) said in a statement on Monday that the Special Envoy’s visit comes at a time “crucial to the Sudanese people”. The rebel movement’s secretary-general, Yasir Saeed Arman, said that the Sudanese media “loudly talk” about the normalisation of ties between the US and Sudan, while President Omar Al Bashir “disregarded” the efforts made by the African Union for a peace process.
The visit comes at a time, Arman said, when there is an influx of newly displaced people in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, as a result of aerial bombardments and pro-government militias targeting the civilian population. He claimed that Sudan is currently also involved in foreign wars in Libya and South Sudan.
The SPLM-N official expressed hope that the visit will “advance the search and the cause of a comprehensive peace settlement, democratic transformation, and support to bring back the effective role of the African Union to facilitate and resolve the Sudanese crisis in a genuine national constitutional process”.
Today, the Enough Project released a public statement addressing the US Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan. Ambassador Booth should use this trip to enhance US policy on Sudan by creating the financial pressure necessary to target individuals that benefit from pervasive corruption and ongoing conflict in Sudan. The US “should increase targeted sanctions enforcement against political elites”.
The Washington-based project of the Center for American Progress stressed that Booth should make clear that support for debt relief to Sudan is not possible until the Sudanese government ends its “deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including aerial bombardments”.