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U.S. Congressmen urge to determine position on Sudan’s removal from terror list after protests

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April 5, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Prominent U.S. Congressmen have urged the State Department to explain its position on Sudan’s removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism following the recent brutal crackdown of peaceful protests in the east African nation.

In October 2017 the U.S. lift 20-year-old economic sanctions on Sudan, following what the two countries agreed in November 2018 to begin a second process aiming at Sudan’s removal from the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism and normalize bilateral relations.

Besides the counterterrorism cooperation and humanitarian access, the Phase II Agreement stresses that Sudan should ensure freedoms and human rights as provided in the international law and to amend its repressive and coercive laws.

In a letter to sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday 4 April, seven Congressmen pointed to the ongoing repression in Sudan against peaceful protests that have been taking place across the country since December 2018,

They said that continuing the engagement under Phase II is likely to be interpreted by the Sudanese government to mean that the excessive use of violence against protesters and brutal repression will be ignored if they continue engagement on terrorism issues,

“Counterterrorism is a necessary precondition, but is not sufficient to justify engagement with the Sudanese regime,” said the letter signed by Senators: Robert Menendez, Ted Cruz, Chris Van Hollen, Christopher Coons, Marco Rubio, Jeffery Merkley and Cory Booker.

The bipartisan letter pointed out to a hearing on Sudan that will take place soon and requested Pompeo to response to a number of questions including whether the State Department plans to continue with the removal process.

“What is the Administration’s position on continuing with Phase II engagement in light of the imposition of the State of Emergency and installation of a military government?”

In additions to questions about the humanitarian situation in Sudan, the Senators asked the State Department to explain its efforts, beyond the public statements, to demonstrate the U.S. support to the right of Sudanese people to demonstrate peacefully to express their demands.

Also, they requested to be briefed about the State Department’s plan to develop a common diplomatic approach to handle the political crisis in Sudan together with European Union states, Troika countries, and U. S. interlocutors in African and the Middle East.

The State Department issued several statements together with the Troika countries, the United Kingdom and Norway condemning the excessive use of violence and urged the government of President al-Bashir to ensure the freedoms and peaceful demonstrations.

In a statement issued on 26 February after the imposition of the state of emergency, the Troika countries and Canada warned that government response to the peaceful protests will determine the fate of relations with Sudan.

"Troika countries and Canada will continue to monitor the situation closely, and to emphasize that the Government of Sudan’s response to these protests and the actions of the military-led government will determine our countries’ future engagement," stressed the statement.

However, the government says they allow the authorized demonstrations, adding they ongoing protests are illegally organized and disturb the public order.

Sudanese authorities say some 30 dead during protests so far but rights groups and activists say the death toll reached 60 people.

(ST)

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