Washington DC — Dozens of Sudanese nationals demonstrated in American cities on Thursday, urging the USA not to lift sanctions on the Khartoum government.
Activist members of political and civil society organisations in Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York took to the streets in demonstrations organised with the visit of Sudan's Foreign Affairs Minister Ibrahim Ghandour.
The demonstrators denounced the Sudanese government's "continued violations of human rights".
They raised a memorandum to US officials in the National Congress and the White House pointing to the injustice of lifting the trade sanctions against a regime they described as "repressive and corrupt".
The US government will decide on 12 October if it will definitely cancel the economic sanctions it imposed on Khartoum in the 1990s.
The USA imposed the sanctions in November 1997 after Sudan was accused of being a "state sponsor of terrorism". The order blocked all Sudanese government assets in the USA 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 would 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.
On 12 July, Washington postponed the decision for another three months. A press statement issued by the US State Department that day explained that "The President's EO (Executive Order) 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 said that Washington will revoke the sanctions if the Sudanese government is assessed, by the new date of 12 October, to have sustained progress in these areas at the end of the extended review period.