22 February 2013

Sudan: Voting Rights At the UN Reinstated

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 government is now eligible to vote at the United Nations after being suspended for accumulation of financial arrears.

On Friday, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) removed Sudan from the list of countries that were sanctioned under Article 19 of the 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".

Earlier this year the UN disclosed this year that Sudan owes $1 million in arrears but to reinstate its voting rights needs to only pay $347,879.

Sudan's ambassador at the UN Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman initially denied that his country is behind on payments and insisted that they are current.

Later the foreign ministry in Sudan acknowledged the delinquent status but blamed the finance ministry for the suspension which is the second since 2012.

But an official at the finance ministry pushed back saying they had other spending priorities and noted the country's difficult economic situation. The two sides worked together to disburse the funds through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Sudan.

The Deputy Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Eduardo del Buey told Sudan Tribune in an email in early February that they have been informed that a payment has been received by the UNDP office but has not yet reached the UN headquarters.

The head of the Foreign Relations Committee at the Sudanese parliament Mohamed al-Hassan al-Amin said the UN move to bar Sudan from voting was "politically motivated".

His remarks drew criticism from the pro-government Sudan Vision newspaper which said that "it became phenomena for our politicians to resort to conspiracy theory and its pretext to justify their damaging failures".

Sudan lost three-quarters of its oil production when South Sudan became independent in July 2011, worsening an economic crisis as oil was the government's main source of revenue and of the dollars needed to pay for food imports and other basic items.

Last summer, the government launched a package of tough austerity measures including scaling back fuel subsidies to close a fiscal gap, sparking short-lived protests.

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