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African Union approves Sudan’s reform timeline

—- Sudan has received a vote of approval on its transitional plan, including the gradual accommodation of former rebel fighters into the government, after a top security organ of the African Union toured Khartoum this week.

A delegation of the African Union Peace and Security Council held sessions with leaders of the transitional government now under Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. And the verdict was that Khartoum was on track to ensure the country’s full return to democracy.

Team leader Jean Kamau, the Kenyan Permanent Representative to the African Union, told reporters in Khartoum that the Council was in Sudan to assess the country’s progress on political and economic reforms.

“As one of our leading countries in Africa, we also noted that the efforts that have been put in place are very important for the peace and security, and show how African problems have been addressed by Africans,” she said on Tuesday.

Ms Kamau chaired the March sessions of the African Union Peace and Security Council, the month in which Kenya led deliberations of the continental body charged with preventing violent conflicts and ensuring stability on the continent.

Other representatives in the delegation included envoys from Burundi, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Senegal.

Sudan’s approval rating from the AU came on the same week the US announced that Khartoum had paid up its $335 million due to victims of US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

The payment, part of a court-ordered obligation on Khartoum, means Sudan, which had been removed from the sanctions list of state sponsors of terror, can now trade freely with the world, including access to key credit facilities.

“We appreciate Sudan’s constructive efforts over the past two years to work with us to resolve these long-outstanding claims.  With this challenging process behind us, US-Sudan relations can start a new chapter,” said Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State.

“We look forward to expanding our bilateral relationship and to continuing our support for the efforts of the civilian-led transitional government to deliver freedom, peace, and justice to the Sudanese people.”

Sudan faces an ambitious plan to concentrate on its transitional plan, even as it remains with an unresolved border tiff with neighbouring Ethiopia, as well as an unfinished dam filling agreement with Egypt and Ethiopia to ensure proper sharing of Nile waters.

Internally, Sudan must build a transitional government of national unity, which will also include fighters who used to oppose the government in the south and south western regions in Darfur. It must prepare for elections by establishing key institutions and laws, and must also implement an economic policy that cushions civilians from further effects of Covid-19.

The Council met with the First Vice President of the Transitional Sovereign Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, on Tuesday.

Ms Kamau told journalists that the Council’s mission to Sudan was to appraise and assure support for Sudan. The visit coincided with the formal inclusion of former rebel leaders into the government under an arrangement known as the Juba Peace Agreement.

“The Field Mission is taking place in line with the Council’s mandate to promote and enhance peace, security and stability in the Continent, in particular, as it relates to the implementation of its various decisions on the situation in Sudan,” the Council said in a statement.

“It is also taking place following the signing of the Juba Peace Agreement on 3 October 2020; the removal of Sudan from the United States of America list of state sponsors of Terrorism (SST), leading to the lifting of sanctions on the country; and the establishment of a new Cabinet based on the peace agreement, which includes most of the former armed movements; as well as the recent signing of the ‘Declaration of Principles’ that calls for freedom of religion and cultural identity in Sudan.”

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