Creditors cancel $14 billion of Sudan’s debt after reforms, Israel normalization

Paris Club of creditor nations also announces rescheduling of Khartoum’s remaining $9.4 billion in debt, holds out possibility of further relief

A demonstrator throws a tire on a fire during a protest over economic conditions, in Khartoum, Sudan, Wednesday, June 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)
A demonstrator throws a tire on a fire during a protest over economic conditions, in Khartoum, Sudan, Wednesday, June 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

PARIS — Creditor countries agreed to cancel $14.1 billion of Sudan’s international debts, praising its economic reforms and efforts to fight poverty.

In a statement Friday, the Paris Club of creditor nations also announced that it rescheduled Sudan’s remaining $9.4 billion in debt to the group, and held out the possibility of more debt relief in the future.

Sudan’s overall foreign debt is estimated at $70 billion. The Paris Club, a group of 22 nations that lend to governments in need, urged other lenders to provide similar debt forgiveness.

On his Facebook page, Sudan’s Finance Minister Gebreil Ibrahim congratulated the Sudanese people on this development, vowing to work on reaching similar or “even better” agreements with other creditors from outside the Paris Club.

Friday’s announcement came after the International Monetary Fund announced a $1.4 billion debt relief package for Sudan last month, and France canceled Sudan’s $5 billion debt in an effort to support the country’s transitional leadership and help its crippled economy.

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.

Then-Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech to the nation on February 22, 2019, at the presidential palace in the capital Khartoum. (ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

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 autocratic President 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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