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US extends sanctions on Sudan

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Barack Obama Barack Obama

UNITED States President, Barack Obama on Tuesday extended sanctions on Sudan for another year, saying

UNITED States President, Barack Obama on Tuesday extended sanctions on Sudan for another year, saying Khartoum’s policies had not yet improved enough to warrant their removal.

 

Obama’s order maintains several sets of US sanctions imposed since 1997 which restrict US trade and investment with Sudan and block the assets of the Sudanese government and certain officials.

The United States had offered Khartoum the chance to put relations on a better footing if it cooperated with the January referendum that set South Sudan on the path to declare its independence on July 9.

While the vote went off relatively smoothly, Khartoum and the South Sudan government in Juba have remained at loggerheads over the main oil-producing border state of South Kordofan, where rebels and government forces have repeatedly clashed since June.

Violence has also broken out in Blue Nile and Abyei states, while US officials said they have not seen sufficient progress in western Darfur region, where mainly non-Arab rebels took up arms against Khartoum in 2003 leading to a harsh government crackdown that Washington and some activists labeled genocide.

Khartoum has denied the genocide charge, and repeatedly urged the US to drop punitive measures against it which include its inclusion on an official US list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The US has so far taken some small initial steps to lift export controls on agricultural machinery to help Sudan’s struggling food sector, but has stressed that further progress is contingent on Khartoum’s behavior.

Washington has lifted sanctions on South Sudan, hoping to help the new country gain its economic footing. But it is still seeking to clarify implementation of sanctions on Sudan’s oil industry, which is deeply interconnected between the two countries.

Sudan’s foreign ministry condemned the extension of the sanctions.

"The government of Sudan strongly condemns the renewal of these sanctions," the ministry said in a statement.

"The sanctions imposed by the US administration are political sanctions which were and still are aimed at damaging Sudan’s vital interests by hindering development ambitions and plans to fight poverty."

Khartoum has always said that the sanctions hit ordinary Sudanese, who face an economic crisis and spiralling inflation after the independence of South Sudan, which took most of the country’s oil production.

Meanwhile, Britain’s ambassador to Sudan said on Tuesday he would continue his controversial blog despite protests by Khartoum over his latest entry which criticised a severe economic crisis in the African country.

Last month, Sudan’s foreign ministry summoned Nicholas Kay after he wrote on his blog that it was no surprise that protests against food inflation "in a country where hunger stalks the land" had erupted.

Tackling the sensitive issue of inflation struck a raw nerve with the government. Sudan has avoided an Arab Spring revolt like neighbouring Egypt but anger is building up over high food prices that have triggered small protests in Khartoum.

 

"I am very pleased the blog has stimulated a debate about some of these important issues," Kay told reporters.

"I am sure that I shall be writing soon and look forward to the debate continuing," he said.

Sudan’s annual inflation hit 21 percent in August.

Kay’s regular blog on the embassy website has stirred lively debates on social media and condemnation from pro-government media.

"You don’t have to travel to the periphery of Sudan to find hunger. Daily life in Khartoum is increasingly hard," Kay wrote last month, listing sharp price increases for several basic food items.

His comments came as Britain said it would support the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) with 4.8 million pounds to support aid operations in Sudan’s war-stricken southern border regions.

In September Sudan’s central bank governor asked fellow Arab states to help stabilise the economy by putting deposits worth $4 billion in the central bank and with commercial lenders.

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