Foreign Minister Maas spoke at the High-Level Conference on the Sudan on the fringes of the UN General Assembly. He called to mind the courageous people of the Sudan, among them many women, who brought down one of the world’s most repressive dictatorships more than two years ago. He renewed Germany’s pledge to support the Sudan on its path towards peace, prosperity and democracy.
Major challenges following the peaceful revolution
Since the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, the civilian-led interim government under Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has been focusing on the priority areas of peace and the economy in the Sudan. The conclusion of the Juba Peace Agreement in October 2020 with the majority of the arms groups was a key milestone. The interim government is now faced with the challenge of implementing the agreement and completing the peace process with the remaining groups in order to pave the way for democratic elections. The formation of an interim parliament and the drafting of a permanent constitution are still pending.
A coup against the civilian-led interim government failed on 21 September, and the interim government issued a clear commitment to continuing the reform process thereafter. Alongside the continuation of the peace process, economic reform and the establishment of democratic and rule-of-law institutions is vital with a view to stabilising the situation of the people in the Sudan.
Due to the economic mismanagement of the previous regime, the Sudanese population continues to suffer from the grave economic and supply crisis, which has been further aggravated by the COVID‑19 pandemic. The humanitarian situation remains precarious. Around one third of the population is dependent on assistance.
Milestone in the debt relief process: HIPC Initiative of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund
What is more, with over 50 billion US dollars in debts, the Sudan is one of the most highly indebted countries in the world. With international assistance, the Sudan was able in late June to fulfil all necessary requirements in order to begin the debt relief process within the framework of the HIPC Initiative (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. This was an important step in the context of the debt relief process. The first facilitations regarding access to development funding and debt relief mean that the Sudan will regain more financial leeway to enable it to advance the transition and implement key political and economic reforms that will have a tangible impact on the population. Investment from the private sector will also be key to sustainable economic reconstruction in the long term.
Before this process started, the government had already implemented a groundbreaking economic reform programme in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund, including measures to reduce subsidies and the long-awaited exchange rate reform.
Cornerstone for debt relief: Sudan Partnership Conference in Berlin
The cornerstone for the Sudan’s reintegration into the international community and cooperation with international financial institutions was laid at the Sudan Partnership Conference co-hosted by Germany and held in Berlin last June. Significant political support and financial assistance to the tune of 1.8 billion US dollars were mobilised at this conference.
The high-level Sudan conference held in Paris in May 2021 under the chairmanship of France’s President Macron, and which Foreign Minister Maas also attended, followed on from that: it launched the debt relief process. The German Government and other international partners pledged to help the Sudan on the road to long-term debt relief. Among other things, Germany announced the cancellation of bilateral debts amounting to 360 million euro.
Germany is supporting change in the Sudan: from humanitarian assistance to development cooperation
Germany has supported change in the Sudan from the outset. In September 2019, Heiko Maas was the first Western Foreign Minister to visit Khartoum after the peaceful revolution. Bilateral development cooperation was resumed in 2020, with these funds now totalling 435 million euro and supporting, among other things, the implementation of economic reforms through vocational training initiatives, renewable energies and social security programmes. Moreover, Germany provides humanitarian assistance to the Sudan, allocating 27.5 million euro for this purpose in 2020. Around 126 million euro have already been pledged for 2021.
Support for the UN mission UNITAMS
Within the framework of stabilisation measures, Germany is also active in the sphere of the rule of law and in efforts to strengthen the civilian interim government. The new UN mission UNITAMS led by Volker Perthes is supported by Germany politically, financially and in terms of personnel. For a long time, Germany was the only Western troop contributor engaged in the previous mission UNAMID (African Union and United Nations Mission Hybrid Operation in Darfur).
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