31 January 2013

Sudan Acknowledges Losing Voting Rights At UN Over Outstanding Dues

Photo: UN Photo/Marco Castro
Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir addressing a general debate at the United Nations headquarters in New York (file photo).

Khartoum — The Sudanese government acknowledged for the first time that it is behind on membership dues to the United Nations which resulted in losing voting rights at the world body.

The Undersecretary of the Sudanese foreign ministry Rahmatallah Osman told the privately owned al-Sudani newspaper on Wednesday that they have asked the finance ministry to address the issue of UN arrears in anticipation of the vote suspension.

"This is not something good at all not to pay," the Sudanese diplomat said.

Asked why the money was not disbursed as per their request, Osman deferred the question to the finance ministry.

An unidentified official at Sudan's finance ministry told al-Sudani that they had other spending priorities rather than the UN dues.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) reported on its website that as of January 21 there were 15 member states including Sudan that are delinquent in their financial contributions under the terms of Article 19 of the UN Charter.

Under Article 19 of the UN charter "a member State in arrears in the payment of its dues in an amount that equals or exceeds the contributions due for two preceding years can lose its vote in the General Assembly".

To reinstate its voting rights Sudan needs to pay at least $347,879 so that it remains below the gross amount assessed for the preceding two full years of 2011 and 2012.

The UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said earlier this month that Sudan owes close to $1 million in arrears.

A few weeks ago the Sudanese ambassador at the UN Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman dismissed reports on financial arrears saying that his country was up to date in its payments.

Sudan is battling its biggest economic crisis for decades as it struggles with a severe shortage of hard currency following the loss of three quarters of its oil production due to South Sudan's independence in 2011.

Oil revenues were the main source of revenue for Sudan's budget and for foreign currency needed to pay for vital imports including food and medicine.

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