By Pauline Kamiri
The US has suspended $700 million in emergency funding for Sudan in response to the ongoing military coup attempt in the country. The United states is demanding that the Sudanese military immediately release civilian leaders and find a solution to restore the transitional government.
The emergency funds had been approved by Congress in a budget bill last year ,2020, and were intended to support the country’s democratic transition but nothing has been distributed to the Sudanese government yet.
At least $423 million was supposed to be disbursed to Sudan from the United States in the 2021 fiscal year, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development. The vast majority of that aid was earmarked for humanitarian purposes, including emergency food aid as efforts to rebuild Sudan’s government take shape.
Diplomatic relations between the United States and Sudan have gradually improved over the last year with former president Trump’s administration removing Sudan from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
This in turn allowed Sudan to access international loans, funding and overall assistance. The Sudanese government also promised to pay $335 million to victims of al-Qaeda terror attacks on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and on the USS Cole in 2000.Sudan has previously been accused of harboring Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s.
However, frustrations among the Sudanese people has become a common phenomenon since the country is yet to transition into full civilian rule since free elections have not occurred, two years after its longtime president Omar Hassan al Bashir was ousted. This in turn has derailed Sudan’s path to democracy.
Ned Price, the State Department spokesman has warned the Sudanese military to refrain from any violence against protesters, including the use of live ammunition, amid reports that soldiers had fired on protests, killing at least seven and wounding more than 140 across the Khartoum and Omdurman
These protests took place in response to the military’s arrest of Sudan’s prime minister Abdalla Hamdok and members of the civilian government in Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s ruling military council and also the head of the power sharing governing council went ahead to declare a state of emergency and dissolved the Sovereign Council, which was created in 2019 to run the country after the ouster of longtime President Omar al-Bashir .
Sudan has been on edge in the past few months, when a failed coup attempt blamed on supporters of al-Bashir set off recriminations between the military and civilians in the transitional cabinet. This was during a time when coalition of rebel groups and political parties aligned themselves with the military and called on it to dissolve the civilian government, while cabinet ministers took part in protests against the prospect of military rule.
The U.S. government is to cut off foreign aid to countries where the military wrests power from an elected leader. Sudan is not an exception since it is already subject to coup based restrictions on foreign aid, dating back to Al-Bashir’s seizure of power in 1989.