The United States and the Democratic Transition in Sudan
By Magdi Mofadal
On August 21st, 2019 the Sovereign Council (SC), which acts as the Head of State in Sudan, was stablished after the swearing in of its President and Members. The prime minister took oath of office on the same day. He immediately started consultations to form his cabinet, which is expected to be announced soon. Consultations are underway to form the Transitional Legislative Council. These are the civilian institutions that will govern Sudan in the 39-month transitional period at the end of which general elections will be held. These developments herald the beginning a new era of democratic transition in Sudan which is hoped to be the last transition.
The United States contributed to the success of the glorious December 2018 Revolution in Sudan through her actions and policies towards the previous regime. After nominating Ambassador Donald Booth as Special Envoy for Sudan, Washington enhanced its diplomatic engagement with the country’s neighbors and in supporting mediation efforts among the Sudanese stakeholders. Nonetheless, a lot remain to be done .There are several areas in which the United States can contribute to a successful transition and consolidation of democracy in Sudan.
Achieving peace in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states is crucial to a successful transition in Sudan as well as to the country’s stability, development and prosperity. Washington can use her relations, leverage and influence with all national, regional and international actors to expedite the badly-needed peace process.
Delisting Sudan from the States Sponsors of Terrorism list will be the best gift from Washington to the Sudanese people as they strive to chart a new future for their country.
Availing Khartoum the opportunity to benefit from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative will give a big boost to the country’s economy and debt relief efforts. Sudan also needs to be supported to normalize its relations with the international financial institutions.
The two countries have a legacy of good cooperation in counterterrorism, regional peace and stability, and humanitarian affairs that can be built on and strengthened. There is a potential for new avenues of cooperation that has to be explored.
Khartoum has to be given the opportunity to join Washington’s initiatives to support African economies such as Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Africa-USA Business Summit, etc.
American investors are invited to explore the huge investment potential in Sudan in hydrocarbons, mining, infrastructure, agribusiness, tourism, construction and services. The USA businesses have to be acquainted with relevant information on exemptions from sanctions in order to facilitate a normal flow of trade between the two countries.
American government institutions, universities, think tanks, NGOs and companies can contribute to building the capacities of their Sudanese counterparts and thus have their share in nurturing the country’s democracy.
On the diplomatic front, Washington is called upon to use her leverage with relevant regional allies to work closely to avoid turning Sudan into a battleground for other conflicts.
When dealing with Sudan issues, our American friends and partners have to take into consideration the country’s particularities. It is the only African state that has been in a state of armed conflicts since 1955 with a few peaceful intervals. These conflicts have left deep scars on all aspects of life that need ample time and intensive and smart efforts to fully heal. Sudan also has been deprived of any economic support from traditional donors for over three decades which left its economy facing substantial challenges.
On the other hand, Sudan is endowed with huge natural resources that can make a breakthrough in the country’s economy in a short span of time. During the country’s oil boom (2000-2010) Sudan was among the fastest growing economies in the world with two-digit GDP growth in some years. Sudan is also strategically situated nearby promising markets in the Middle East and Europe for its future exports. Moreover, Sudan has the potential to have a diversified economy that can minimize the impacts of external shocks.
The Sudanese people are still suffering and paying a very high price as a result of the sanctions that have been imposed on the country by the United States .Our youth were deprived from accessing American technology, software, finance, education materials and training and thus they have been left behind compared with their African sisters and brothers. It is hoped Washington will not punish them twice by delaying the lifting of the remaining sanctions or by creating new bars for normalizing the two countries’ relations.
(Magdi Mofadalis the Charge’ d’Affaires ad interim, Sudan Embassy –Washington D.C. The opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the writer. Reach him through his media contact at email@example.com or Ambassador Mofadal directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.)