Sudan has told the United Nations General Assembly that its debts must be cancelled and its economy supported as it struggles to recover from losing three-quarters of its critical oil revenue to South Sudan when it seceded a year ago.
“Sudan requires assistance to go through this very sensitive stage towards better horizons. For that we believe that debts must be cancelled and its economy supported,” Ali Ahmed Karti, the Sudanese foreign minister, said on Saturday.
The International Monetary Fund this week urged Sudan to meet donors to discuss debt relief and some IMF board members called for “exceptional efforts” from the IMF and the global community to help Sudan reduce its debt of about $40bn.
South Sudan seceded in July 2011. Leaders from both states finally reached a border security deal on Wednesday to restart badly needed oil exports, but failed to solve the other key conflicts left over from when they split.
The pair failed to settle the fate of at least five disputed oil-producing regions along the border. Tensions over the unmarked 1930km common border spilled over into fighting in April, when South Sudan’s army briefly occupied the Heglig oilfield, vital to Sudan’s economy.
They were also unable to reach a solution for the border region of Abyei, which has symbolic significance to both and is rich in grazing lands. Plans for a referendum have failed over the question of who should participate.
Sudan has been in an economic crisis since South Sudan seceded, taking with it most of the crude oil production – the lifeblood of both economies.
The loss of oil revenues left Sudan with a large budget gap and rising prices for food and other goods, many of which are imported.
“We have been determined to tackle the reasons for war and strife despite the strong economic and political pressures being brought to bear against my country and unfair sanctions imposed by the United States,” Karti said.
Washington still maintains its 1997 embargo on the country over Sudan’s role in hosting prominent Islamist militants. The sanctions restrict US trade and investment with Sudan and block the assets of the Sudanese government.
The US and other powers criticise Sudan for human rights violations and a harsh crackdown on rebels.
Western powers also shun Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir who was indicted by the International Criminal Court over war crimes in Darfur, the site of a nearly decade-old insurgency.
Karti also mentioned Darfur on Saturday.
“We call on the international community to protect and secure the peace by countering the armed rebel groups that have refused to join the peace process. We also call on the Security Council to bring pressure to bare against those movements to compel them to join the document,” he said.
Violence has since subsided from its peak, but law and order have collapsed in many parts of the vast territory, and clashes have continued to erupt between rebels and government forces.