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Sudan: Blinken urges progress before US aid resumes

November 22, 2021

Washington has reacted with cautious optimism in the wake of the reinstatement of Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister, less than a month after the military seized power.

Antony Blinken steps off a plane
Washington, which has suspended $700 million in aid, wants to see more progress towards democracy in SudanImage: Alex Brandon/AP Photo/picture alliance

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday held separate calls with Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The US has yet to resume the $700 million (€623 million) in emergency assistance that it halted following October's military coup that ousted Hamdok.

On Sunday, after weeks of negotiations, Sudan's military leaders accepted a deal to reinstate Hamdok as prime minister.

What did the US say about aid to Sudan?

In reaction to the development, Blinken said he was "encouraged" by the deal.

However, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters a decision on the financial aid will be "predicated entirely on what happens in the coming hours and the coming days and the coming weeks."

"[Restoring Hamdok to power] is the first step," Price said. "It's not the last step. We must continue to see progress, we must continue to see Sudan move back down the democratic path, and that starts with the reinstitution of the Prime Minister but it certainly doesn't end there."

Hamdok, who was removed from power on October 25, will now return to lead a technocratic government for a "transitional period" until elections can be held, though it remained unclear how much power the civilian government will actually have.

What did Hamdok say?

In a televised interview with Al Jazeera, Hamdok claimed he would have the authority to form his own independent government, according to the agreement he signed with the country's top generals.

"This was a key part of the political agreement we signed," he said. "That the prime minister should have the power and the authority to form an independent technocratic government, in complete liberty and without any pressures."

Hamdok also said that the reason he returned to the post was to maintain the economic gains from the past two years. 

Sudan carried out a number of reforms since Hamdok became the prime minister in 2019 under a power-sharing deal. 

The reforms won the approval of the International Monetary Fund and helped the country secure much-needed economic aid, which was put on hold after the coup.

 "We will continue our contacts with international financial institutions, and the new budget that will begin in January will proceed on the path of economic reform and open the door to investment in Sudan," the reinstated premier said.

adi, jsi/rt (AFP, Reuters)