WASHINGTON - Following months of political instability after the ousting of longtime President Omar al-Bashir, the new interim government in Sudan is now seeking to remove the country from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The move would help Sudan overcome economic challenges facing the African country after al-Bashir was overthrown in April following months of street protests, Sudanese officials said.
The removal of Sudan from the U.S. list is key to the new government's efforts to stabilize the country in the transitional period, Abdalla Hamdok, the interim prime minister of Sudan, said in an interview with U.S. funded Alhurra TV on Tuesday.
Hamdok, who was appointed prime minister in late August, also used part of his speech at the U.N. General Assembly last week to urge the U.S. to remove Sudan from the list, saying sanctions imposed by Washington were causing "tremendous suffering" to the Sudanese people.
Imposed on former regime
The U.S. government added Sudan to its list of state sponsors of terrorism in 1993 over charges that then-President Bashir's Islamist government was supporting terrorism. The country was also targeted by U.S. sanctions over Khartoum's alleged support for terror groups, including al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah.
"It was the former regime that supported terrorism and the Sudanese people revolted against it. These sanctions have caused tremendous suffering to our people," said Hamdok.
"Therefore, we call on the United States to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and to stop punishing the people of Sudan for crimes committed by the former regime," he added.
In 2017, the U.S. government initiated talks with the former Sudanese government aimed at normalizing relations between the two countries, but Washington suspended those discussions in April of this year after the overthrow of al-Bashir.
U.S. officials said the suspension remains in place despite renewed talks with the new interim government in Khartoum.
"There's a number of things we're looking forward to engaging with a civilian-led government," David Hale, U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs, said when asked about this issue during a press conference in Khartoum in August.
The designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism bars the country from debt relief and financing from international financial lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
"The problem is that this designation has prevented other U.S. allies and world organizations from cooperating with Sudan," said Durra Gambo, a local journalist based in Khartoum.
"So this has had far more consequences on the Sudanese people than the U.S. probably intend it to have," she added.
Gambo told VOA the United States currently has no political argument to keep the designation in place "now that Sudan has a civilian-led leadership and is transitioning from dictatorship to democracy."
Although U.S. officials have expressed support for the new Sudanese government, removing Sudan from the State Department list requires approval from U.S. Congress after a six-month-long review.
Experts have voiced confidence that such process could begin soon by the U.S. government, given the ongoing financial crisis in Sudan.
"I'm confident the U.S. administration is considering the removal of Sudan from that list," Moiz Hadra, a Khartoum-based lawyer who closely follows the developments, told VOA.
"In fact, some foreign leader such as President [Emmanuel] Macron [of France] have expressed their willingness to urge the Americans to start the process of delisting Sudan," he said.
Hadra noted that the U.S. could play a major role in Sudan's economic and political recovery following nearly three decades marked with repression and poverty under al-Bashir's rule.
"Removing Sudan from the list will certainly open up Sudan for financial aid and foreign investment," Hadra said, adding that, "A prosperous and stable Sudan should be the ultimate objective for all international stakeholders."