1 February 2013

Sudan's Envoy Contradicts Foreign Ministry On Cause of UN Financial Arrears

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

Washington — The Sudanese ambassador at the United Nations Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman contradicted the justification offered by the foreign ministry in Khartoum to explain why the country is behind on its membership dues.

Sudan's voting rights at the UN were suspended in accordance with article 19 of the UN charter which states that "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".

The East African nation is reported to owe close to $1 million in UN fees but to reinstate its voting rights only needs to pay $347,879.

The Undersecretary of the Sudanese foreign ministry Rahmatallah Osman told the privately owned al-Sudani newspaper this week that the finance ministry did not respond positively to their request for funds to pay the UN.

An unidentified finance ministry official told the newspaper that they had other spending priorities.

But Sudan's envoy in New York said the situation was simply a result of "logistical" obstacles and that money was available.

In an interview with Innercitypress Osman said that because Sudan is unable to obtain or maintain a bank account in New York the country convinced the UN to accept payments through the UN Resident Coordinator in Khartoum.

The Sudanese diplomat said the payments were being made but there were logistical problems.

When the issue of financial arrears emerged earlier this month, Osman said Sudan is current on its dues to the UN and is preparing to pay the its portion of the 2013 UN budget.

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.

More than one year ago the Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti criticized the finance ministry saying that it has restricted his spending and made his job more difficult.

Sudan cut back fuel subsidies and took other austerity measures last summer to try to plug a budget deficit. The move led to a series of small anti-government demonstrations, but they mostly petered out after a security crackdown.

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