IMF announces debt relief package for Sudan

CAIRO (AP) — The International Monetary Fund has announced a debt relief package for Sudan, a step in helping the country as it tries to rejoin the global economy after years of isolation.

In a statement distributed late Tuesday, the fund’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva said that it had obtained enough pledges from more than 100 member countries to finance the debt relief package of some US$1.4 billion. This will help to erase debts Sudan owed to the IMF, but also other lending institutions.

“Today’s financing milestone marks a historic opportunity for Sudan to move toward comprehensive debt relief,“ she said. “The Fund will continue to support Sudan in its recovery from a long period of instability and economic hardship.”

Its new standing will make the country eligible for new IMF loans, but also developmental aid and assistance. It comes after France announced that it would forgive $5 billion of Sudan’s debt at a conference meant to drum up international financial support for the African country in May.

Sudan’s joint military-civilian government that has ruled the African country after a popular uprising has taken a series of bold steps to try to revive a battered and distorted economy where smuggling is rife. That’s included floating its currency, starting to address heavy government subsidies, particularly on fuel, and seeking investment from international donors.

But some measures also threaten to further impoverish some of the country’s poorest, and have faced opposition from pro-democracy activists who led the popular uprising against autocrat Omar al-Bashir who ruled the country for nearly 30 years.

The revolt led to the military’s overthrow of al-Bashir in April 2019. The country has since been on a fragile path to democracy with daunting economic challenges representing a major threat to that transition.

Sudan became an international pariah after it was placed on the United States’ list of state sponsors of terror in the 1990s.

Former President Donald Trump removed Sudan from the blacklist after the transitional government agreed to pay $335 million in compensation for victims of attacks carried out by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network while the terror leader was living in Sudan. The removal also was an incentive for Sudan to normalize ties with Israel.

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