AU welcomes US move to lift sanctions against Sudan
The African Union (AU) has welcomed the move by the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama to remove sanctions against Sudan.
The White House said that this would take effect in six months if the regime of President Omar al-Bashir improved human rights in the country and reduced conflict in Darfur.
The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said the US move “will allow Sudan to re-engage in international trade and end the suffering of its people”.
The AU had been pushing recently for America’s 20-year sanctions regime to be lifted, and in January last year heads of state issued a declaration calling for such an action.
Mrs Dlamini-Zuma expressed the hope that the incoming administration of Donald Trump “will consider permanent revocation of the sanctions…and further work towards granting debt relief to the Republic of Sudan, so that the country can begin a new chapter of economic reconstruction and prosperity”.
She called on the Sudanese government and armed movements to “urgently return to the negotiation table with a more conciliatory approach towards resolving their political differences in the interest of the people of Sudan”.
Mrs Dlamini-Zuma urged “all parties to cooperate fully with the efforts of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to reach a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and a Permanent Ceasefire and participate in an inclusive political process, which will guarantee the Sudanese people the long awaited peace”.
The Sudanese government has also welcomed America’s action, with the Foreign Ministry in Khartoum saying it represented “a positive…development” in the relationship between both countries.
In 1993, the US government designated Sudan as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) and suspended its diplomatic operations in Khartoum in 1996.
In October 1997, the US imposed comprehensive economic, trade, and financial sanctions against Sudan.
A year ago, the Sudanese government and its supporters went on the offensive to get the US to drop sanctions against the country.
In January 2016 a petition was posted on the White House website calling on the Obama administration to end the sanctions, which petitioners said were “oppressing the poor and innocent”.
The anti-US sanctions campaigners noted on the site: “The poor and helpless in Sudan are bearing the brunt of the economic sanctions imposed on the country by the United States 23 years ago.
“The intended goal of the sanctions might have been to weaken the oppressive government of Sudan, but they are producing exactly the opposite result.
“They are weakening and impoverishing the people of Sudan and strengthening the grip of the regime on the country.
“We plead with President Obama to do the right and humane thing by ordering an immediate end to the Sudan sanctions.”
The site had a threshold of 100,000 signatures for the president to act.
However, a month later, after the deadline ended, there were 117,150 signatures – thus meeting the threshold.
But a statement on the White House website said: “This petition has been archived because it did not meet the signature requirements.”
For the Sudanese government, this was just the start of a concerted campaign because Khartoum said then that it “has a moral obligation to never give up actively trying to get US economic sanctions removed”.
According to the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, both countries continued to undertake “joint efforts and a long and candid dialogue in which a number of institutions took part”.
The outcome has been “close cooperation between the two countries over international and regional issues of mutual concern”.
The Foreign Ministry said that Sudan would continue the cooperation and dialogue with the US until her name is removed from the SST list.