A U.N. official says Sudan is at a critical juncture as it transitions to a democracy and needs the support of the international community to overcome its myriad economic challenges.
Rosemary DiCarlo, U.N. undersecretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs on Sudan and South Sudan, addressed the Security Council on Tuesday in New York via teleconference.
“[Sudan] can move forward decisively in its transition, but that progress can still be derailed by the many challenges it faces. It is incumbent on all of us to support Sudan in its efforts to achieve democratic governance, economic prosperity and an inclusive society for all Sudanese,” DiCarlo told the council.
December 19 will mark the second anniversary of the start of Sudan’s nationwide protests that led to the military's ouster of President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
The country is being run by a joint military-civilian Sovereign Council. But Sudan is still experiencing political division and economic issues, according to DiCarlo.
“Demonstrations continue to occur intermittently across the country because of the economic crisis, demand for government reform and rejection of the amendment of the constitutional document; some have been accompanied by loss of life and injuries,” said DiCarlo.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further aggravated the need for international assistance, along with severe flooding, intercommunal violence and prolonged displacement, according to DiCarlo.
Strain from Tigray clashes
She said the ongoing clashes in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, which have prompted tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees to stream into eastern Sudan, also have strained Sudan’s economy and its response capacity.
Despite an October peace agreement signed between Sudan’s transitional government and a rebel coalition, Sudan’s economic crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, threatens to undermine its transition.
“The dire economic situation continues to cast a dark and long shadow over all these efforts. COVID-19 restrictions, including the five-month shutdown to prevent its spread, resulted in a severe decline in economic activity,” said DiCarlo.
Sudan’s inflation rate stood at 229 percent in October, she said.
“It is critical that the international community continues supporting Sudan’s economic recovery through funding of the basic income cash transfer program, known as the family support program, intended to mitigate the social impact of the transitional government’s economic reform agenda,” DiCarlo told the Security Council.
The Trump administration has taken steps toward removing Sudan from the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism, and DiCarlo said she hoped that would happen soon, adding it would be “a change that will facilitate the country’s access to critical international financial assistance.”
Sudan is expecting American lawmakers to pass bipartisan legislation to approve the change as soon as possible, according to multiple sources.
Sudan was placed on the list in 1993 after hosting Osama bin Laden and other wanted militants.