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Opposition criticises Sudan response to U.S. delay of sanctions relief

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July 15, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The opposition Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP) Saturday has criticised the government response to Washington’s decision to delay the full lifting of sanctions on Sudan describing it as “declamatory”.

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SCoP leader Omer al-Digair (ST Photo)

Last January, former U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order easing the 19-year Sudan sanctions on a probationary basis. The sanctions relief was to become permanent on 12 July unless the U.S. Administration acted to stop it.

President Donald Trump, in a new executive order issued Tuesday, moved that deadline back by three months, while keeping the temporary sanctions relief in place, citing the need to take more time to assess the robust process. Also, the State Department added the need to go through the human rights, religious freedom, and commitment to UN sanctions on North Korea.

In response to this unexpected decision, Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir announced the freeze of all negotiations with the United States on the sanctions until 12 October.

Speaking at a symposium on the consequences of the lifting of sanctions in Khartoum on Saturday, SCoP chairman Omer al-Digair said the government has “unjustifiably raised its expectations and was talking about the lifting sanctions as the magic key to solve the problems of the economy”.

He added the response of the government to Trump’s decision was “managed by a rhetorical mindset that is guided by wishful thinking”, saying no progress has been made on the ground on the five-track engagement process.

Al-Digair pointed that hostilities have not yet ceased and the humanitarian tracks weren’t opened, pointing to the recent clashes between the rebels and government army in Darfur and Juba’s accusations of Khartoum’s support for South Sudan’s rebels.

Washington is involved in a five-track process with the Sudan over the permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan. The five tracks include the counterterrorism cooperation, the humanitarian access to the conflict areas, Sudan support to regional efforts to end the South Sudanese conflict and to fight against the Ugandan rebel group Lord Resistance Army.

The opposition leader stressed that progress was made only on the intelligence cooperation, saying despite the fact that the human rights file wasn’t part of the engagement plan but it was included in President Trump’s executive order.

Initially, U.S. diplomat said the human rights and freedoms were considered for the second phase of talks after the lift of embargo. However, under the pressure of Congressmen Trump administration decided to deal with the matter during the three-month delay period.

Al-Digair criticised the statements made by Sudan’s Foreign Minister in which the latter praised the human rights situation in Sudan and said it is the best compared to many countries.

“Ghandour’s statements are exaggerated, the press is still subjected to continued confiscations and suspensions, and the opposition is deprived of carrying out political activities on the public squares,” he said.

“Some SCoP cadres are being detained for just carrying out cholera awareness campaigns, and others are being tried on issues related to freedom of expression,” he added

He pointed that President Trump’s decision has revealed the confusion within the Government of National Consensus, saying two political parties participating in the government have called to exercise restraint and continue to engage with Washington while al-Bashir decided to suspend the five-track process.

The opposition leader underscored the lifting of sanctions wouldn’t resolve Sudan’s crises, saying the real cause of the problem lies on the current approach to governance.

He said the regime’s calls for political and economic reform are not genuine, pointing out that the government-led national dialogue was meant to reproduce the regime.

(ST)

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