UNITED NATIONS - At the United Nations, the news is not often good. But Friday was different, and U.N. chief Antonio Guterres expressed what many at a high-level meeting on Sudan's transition toward democracy after 30 years of dictatorship were feeling.
"This is clearly the happiest moment I have in this high-level week,” the secretary-general said. “If one year ago we were forecasting the possibility of this meeting, I think no one would believe. But the fact is we are here celebrating a new Sudan."
Guterres reaffirmed U.N. support for Sudan and noted that the transition was not the destination, but the beginning of its journey.
Both he and AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat urged the lifting of all economic sanctions on Sudan, as well as its removal from the United States' State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
Transitional Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok told the meeting that de-listing was vital.
"This is key to anything we can touch and do,” Hamdok said. “It is linked to the economy, it is linked to debt, to investment, but opening the country at large. We have to get understanding, and fast, from our American friends in de-listing Sudan. Sudan that is upholding good human rights, good governance, rule of law is not a threat to anybody."
He said his top priority was peace.
"Our number one and top priority: stopping the war and building solid ground for sustainable peace,” Hamdok said. “I think the time of achieving peace is now. And I think we are moving in the right direction to achieve precisely that."
Earlier this week, Sudan's foreign minister signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to open offices in the capital, Khartoum, and in four conflict-affected areas of the country.