Sudan’s new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has urged the United States to remove Khartoum from its list of state sponsors of “terrorism”, saying sanctions imposed by Washington were causing “tremendous suffering” to the Sudanese people.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly late on Friday, Hamdok said Sudan was seeking to begin a “new phase” following the toppling in April of longtime ruler, Omar al-Bashir, in the face of months-long mass protests.
“It was the former regime that supported terrorism and the Sudanese people revolted against it. These sanctions have caused tremendous suffering to our people,” said Hamdok, who was appointed prime minister in August.
“Therefore we call on the United States to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and to stop punishing the people of Sudan for crimes committed by the former regime.”
The US designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993, cutting it off from financial markets and strangling its economy over allegations that al-Bashir’s government was supporting “terrorism”, notably attacks in Kenya and Tanzania.
The designation makes the country ineligible for much-needed debt relief and funding from international institutions, and limits potential foreign investment.
Washington lifted a 20-year trade embargo against Sudan in 2017 and was holding discussions on de-listing Khartoum when the military stepped in on April 11 to depose al-Bashir, who ruled for 30 years. Subsequently, the administration of US President Donald Trump suspended talks demanding the military hand power to a civilian government.
After months of deadlock following al-Bashir’s overthrow, the ruling military and protest leaders agreed on a joint body to oversee a three-year transition before elections can be held. The civilian-dominated sovereign council appointed Hamdok to lead the transitional administration.
The former UN economist has pledged to stabilise the country and repair an economy battered by the US sanctions and government mismanagement during al-Bashir’s rule. But Sudan has so far been unable to tap the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for support because of the US’s designation.
Earlier on Friday, Hamdok told reporters he had held “useful” talks with US officials on the issue.
“We hope as we move forward we will be able to conclude very soon an agreement that would allow Sudan to be de-listed,” he said after a high-level event to drum up support for his country.
“The new Sudan that is upholding governance and democracy is not a threat to any nation in the world,” he added.
Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, also expressed support for Hamdok’s efforts at the Sudan event in New York. He called for the immediate removal of “Sudan’s designation as a terrorist-supporting state and lifting all economic sanctions and mobilising massive financial support for development to make the current political gains durable”.
Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan, reporting from New York, said that because Hamdok “is a transitional figure, it’s unlikely that the US is going to recommend any changes in the status of Sudan until elections have been held, a new constitution has been formed and until a permanent civilian government has been established”.
A senior US official told Reuters news agency in August that Washington would test the commitment of Sudan’s new transitional government to human rights, freedom of speech and humanitarian access before it agrees to remove the country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.