Source: Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

Friends of Sudan meet in Washington to discuss ways to support Sudanese economic reforms on 21 October 2019 (Photo Fabrizio Lobasso)
October 22, 2019 (WASHINGTON) - The Friends of Sudan agreed Monday to establish a multi-donor trust fund to support Sudanese government economic reforms while Washington announced engaging discussions with Khartoum to remove it from the terror list.

The U.S. led international group discussed on Monday how the international community can support Sudan's civilian-led transitional government's economic reform efforts.

The meeting which was held on the sidelines of the World Bank annual meetings in Washington was attended by Egypt, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Qatar, the UAE, Britain, the African Union, the European Union, the United Nations, the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Also, Finland, Italy, and Sweden participated as observers for the first time.

US State Department Spokesperson issued a statement on Tuesday saying the Friends of Sudan expressed "strong support for Sudan's civilian-led transitional government" and welcomed Sudanese government plan to reform Sudan' s economy and address the aspiration of the Sudanese people.

During the meeting, Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Badawi made a presentation of his government plan to fight poverty and stabilizing the economy and commodity prices, besides addressing youth unemployment.

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The government projects to implement this emergency plan during the first six months before to focus during the second and third year on preparing the structural economic transformation to develop local industry and moving towards the value-added activities.

The participants pledged to support the quick impact projects proposed by the Sudanese government but also they begin a review of potential mid to longer-term reforms that the Friends of Sudan could support, in a coordinated manner.

"They agreed a multi-donor trust fund may be an appropriate mechanism to support Sudan's economic reform program, particularly the need for a more robust social safety net program to cushion the impact of macro-economic reforms on Sudanese in dire poverty," said the statement

The Friends of Sudan reiterated the "importance of securing unfettered humanitarian access.

Further, they agreed that "Arrears clearance in international financial institutions, debt relief, and access to concessionary funding will be key to Sudan's sustained economic growth," emphasized the statement

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"Partners also discussed holding a donor conference in early 2020".

Sudan removal from U.S. blacklist

During the meeting, several participants underlined that the debt relief and the rehabilitation of the Sudanese economy require the cancellation of Sudan's designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST)

The State Department in its statement admitted that the impact of the SST designation was raised in the meeting as it hinders "arrears clearance at international financial institutions, access to concessional funding, and international investment".

"The United States noted that it has begun engagement with the Government of Sudan on the requirements for (a) potential recession of Sudan's SST designation," said the statement without more information.

This indication opens the door for Sudanese to hope in the removal of their country from shortly.

U.S. officials say they are considering new bases for the talks on bilateral relations with the Sudanese transitional government as they cancelled the previous framework agreement with the former regime.

However, it was reported that Washington, in fact, was reluctant to remove Sudan from the terror list due to the participation of the Sudanese army in the transitional government particularly the leader of the Rapid Support Forces Mohamed Hamdan Daglo who is accused of atrocities and war crimes.

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Holdout rebels

The Friends of Sudan welcomed the progress in the peace talks achieved by the Sudanese parties in Juba and called for the participation of all the armed groups in the process.

"The Friends of Sudan agreed further peace talks would be best in a Sudanese-to-Sudanese format, possibly hosted in Khartoum, and warned against spoilers who refuse to participate in this unique opportunity to address the root causes of Sudan's internal conflicts," said the statement.

Sudan's partners clearly were referring to the Sudan Liberation Movement of the exiled rebel leader Abdel Wahid al-Nur.

The meeting also supported the issuance of a new African Union mandate for the peace negotiations.

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