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U.S. Congress members voice concern over Sudan’s state of emergency, call to maintain sanctions

Congressman James McGovern
February 25, 2019 (WASHINGTON) - Two influential Congress members expressed concern about the imposition of a year-long state of emergency in Sudan as the head of the House human right commission called to maintain its name on the terror list.

Congressman James P. McGovern Chairman of the House Rules Committee and Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, and Congresswomen Karen Bass Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, condemned in two separate statements the declaration of the state of emergency in Sudan on 22 February.

"These emerging events are very concerning. Security forces will have greater powers and I am concerned that this could lead to an increasing crackdown on civilians including more arrests, holding protesters in detention for longer without access to lawyers, and even deaths," said Bass.

She stressed the U.S. support for "the Sudanese people’s desire for democratic, representative governance and the freedom to exercise their civil liberties". Further, she called on the Sudanese government to respect human rights, to end arbitrary detention and the excessive use of violence against protesters.

For his part, McGovern recalled that al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, supported extremist groups, repressed religious minorities and impoverished Sudanese for the benefit of " few wealthy and connected insiders".

He further mentioned his disappointment when President Donald Trump in October 2017 decided the lift of economic sanctions on Sudan pointing out to the poor humanitarian access to all regions of Sudan.

"Given the courageous protests now taking place inside in Sudan, it would be unconscionable for the Trump Administration to remove Sudan from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list or provide Khartoum with economic support or additional sanctions relief," said McGovern.

Last week, Special Assistant to the U.S. President and Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council (NSC), Cyril Sartor, paid a 4-day visit to Khartoum for talks with the Sudanese officials on the second phase of the Sudanese-American process to normalize bilateral relations, including Sudan’s designation a state sponsor of terror.

Before to leave Sudan on 20 February, Sartor warned that the violent crackdown on protesters threatens Sudan’s removal from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

"We have been quite clear, quite explicit ... with all the government leaders that I have met with that the current conditions in Sudan and the overreaction of the security forces, in particular, put the talks (on the Sudan removal from the terror list) at risk," he told the AFP.

(ST)