The US President has postponed the decision on whether to lift economic sanctions on Sudan until October 2017. An Executive Order (EO) issued by President Donald Trump last night says that “more time is needed for this review to establish that the Government of Sudan has sustained sufficient positive actions across all areas listed in EO 13761”.
A press statement issued by the US State Department today explains that “the President issued an EO extending the review period established by EO 13761 of January 13, 2017, which set forth criteria for the revocation of certain sanctions on Sudan.
“The President’s EO extends the review period for an additional three months and provides for the revocation of those sanctions if the Government of Sudan sustains the positive actions that gave rise to EO 13761, including maintaining a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan; improving humanitarian access throughout Sudan; and maintaining its cooperation with the United States on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism.”
The statement says that the United States will revoke the sanctions if the Government of Sudan is assessed, by the new date of October 12, 2017, to have sustained progress in these areas at the end of the extended review period.
“The general license issued by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which became effective on January 17, 2017, remains in place and broadly authorizes US persons to process transactions involving persons in Sudan; engage in imports from and exports to Sudan; and engage in transactions involving property in which the Government of Sudan has an interest,” the US State Department says.
It explains: “While we recognise that the Government of Sudan has made significant, substantial progress in many areas, the Administration has decided that some more time is needed for this review to establish that the Government of Sudan has sustained sufficient positive actions across all areas listed in EO 13761. We remain deeply committed to engagement with the Government of Sudan and working toward further progress on achieving a sustainable peace in Sudan, removing remaining obstructions to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and bolstering cooperation to counter terrorism and promote regional stability. Beyond these key areas connected with the potential revocation of most sanctions on Sudan and the Government of Sudan, the Administration is also committed to intensifying engagement with the Government of Sudan on a broader range of vital issues, including our ongoing dialogue on improving Sudan’s human rights and religious freedom practices, and ensuring that Sudan is committed to the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea,” the statement concludes.
In Khartoum, the government announced that it will reject any resolution from Washington other than a complete lifting of sanctions.
Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said any decision not to lift the sanctions will be “unreasonable and unacceptable”.
“This is a right of Sudan, which has fulfilled all its commitments to the United States. […] Sudan is looking forward to the right decision to lift the sanctions completely.”
The Speaker of the Sudanese Parliament, Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, warned of escalation and mobilisation against the USA in the event that its administration decides not to lift the sanctions. He advised the parliament to “stay away from the policy of reactions” in dealing with the issue.
In the meantime, as predicted by economic experts, the exchange rate for the US Dollar has risen to an unprecedented 20 Sudanese Pounds in anticipation of a US decision.
The USA imposed the sanctions in November 1997 by Executive Order after Sudan was accused of being a “state sponsor of terrorism”. The order blocked all Sudanese government assets in the US and barred all trade transactions involving certain persons in Sudan.
At the end of 2016, The administration of former President Barak Obama began working on the criteria for partially lifting the sanctions for a period of six months (though Sudan remains branded a sponsor of terrorism), after which it may decide on a permanent lifting.
The five criteria under assessment include the ceasing of offensive military activities and providing more access to humanitarian organisations in Sudan, and it does not include the improvement of the human rights situation; a benchmark which dozens of US Congressmen, human rights watchdogs, and activists find lacking.