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Delist Sudan from terror list but prepare sanctions against spoilers: U.S. groups

protesters in Khartoum streets chanting slogans hostile to President Omer al-Bashir's regime on 25 December 2018 (ST photo)
December 13, 2019 (WASHINGTON - Two U.S. groups have called to accelerate the ongoing process for delisting Sudan from the State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) list but called for targeted sanctions on those who might obstruct peace and democratic reforms.

In a joint statement issued on Friday, the U.S. watchdog group The Sentry and U.S. advocacy group Enough Project said that "The time has come to remove Sudan" from the SST and the Trump administration "should accelerate its ongoing process".

The two groups pointed to efforts done by the new transitional government in Khartoum to end the war, ensure humanitarian access and dismantle the former corrupt regime.

"Our position has been shaped by the preponderance of steps that have been taken by the transitional government", including actions that illustrate "the Hamdok administration’s intent to move in a positive direction", said the joint statement.

The groups are also referring to several measures such as the freezing of assets of 30 organizations linked to the former ruling Islamist party, repeal of the repressive Public Order Act, rescission of income and business tax exemptions and the different committee formed to investigate into violence, human rights abuses, and corruption.

The Sentry and Enough went further to say "The importance of supporting the reform efforts of Sudan’s new civilian administration outweighs the potential risks of removing this designation prematurely".

After a visit to Washington earlier this month, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok said that the compensations for the victims of terrorist attacks on the USS Cole and US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam are the only remaining issue under discussions before the SST’s rescission.

The statement, however, the transitional government remains fragile and need to be supported against spoilers from the former regime through "nimble and targeted" sanctions.

"Potential spoilers from this network who may seek to derail this drastic shift in governance threaten to undermine the substantial progress achieved by Sudan’s new leaders,” said John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry.

"For example, the Rapid Support Forces and other armed groups linked to the Bashir regime continue to carry out attacks and forcibly occupy land in Darfur. The US and other countries should impose targeted network sanctions on those that are responsible for violence there and in other war-torn parts of Sudan," further stressed Prendergast.

For his part, Suliman Baldo, Senior Advisor for the Enough Project, said that Sudan cannot only attract investors after the SST removal and call to review the banking sector, anti-money laundering systems and enforcement of public contracting and procurement laws.

"Without such reforms, financial institutions and others in the private sector that are conducting the appropriate level of Know Your Customer (KYC) and Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) reviews will likely not pursue business in Sudan,” Baldo said.