Sudan recorded its first visit from a senior American official after a long period of no visitation from diplomats of any country whatsoever. On the day of his trip, U.S Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin landed at Khartoum international airport. When he arrived, he was met by acting Finance Minister Heba Mohammed Ali and the U.S Charge d’Affaires in Sudan Brian Shukan. Sudanese government officials stated that the U.S treasury chief was the first-ever sitting official to visit Sudan since Omar al-Bashir’s ousting from power. The treasury chief’s visit came immediately after President Donald Trump’s administration removed Sudan from the states’ list of sponsors of terrorism.
U.S Treasury Chief also Visits Cairo
The only other top American diplomat that has visited Sudan is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo, also a senior U.S official, visited the African country back in 2005.
When the treasury Secretary arrived in Sudan on Wednesday, he came from a one day trip to Cairo. In Cairo, he met up with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, a close ally to the U.S. Numerous people believed that the visit to Egypt was just part of a flurry of activity during the final days of Trump’s administration.
While in Sudan, Mnuchin met with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and scheduled meetings with other Sudanese leaders, including General Abdel-Fattah Burhan. General Burhan heads the ruling sovereign council in Sudan. During his one-day visit to Sudan, Mnuchin held discussions focusing on Sudan’s struggling economy. He stated he looked to acquire feedback on how best the U.S could provide economic assistance to the nation, including potential debt relief. According to research, figures show that Sudan today has more than $60 Billion n foreign debt. Experts advise that debt relief and access to foreign loans could be the only way for Sudan to recover its economy.
Sudan on the Path to Achieving Democracy
So far, Sudan seems to be on the path to achieving democracy since the military-led an uprising that led to al-Bashir’s overthrow in April 2019. Currently, the country is ruled by the military and a handful of civilians that seek better relationships with Washington and the West. Because of this, Trump’s administration last year signed off on the removal of Sudan from the U.S record of state promoters of terrorism. Removal from the list led to Sudan normalizing relations with Israel as well.
Because of bad leadership in the past, Sudan’s economy has suffered in recent times from decades of U.S sanctions and mismanagement under al-Bashir. Former president al-Bashir ruled Sudan sine 1989 to 2019 after an Islamist-baked military coup bore fruit. While in power, al-Bashir allegedly briefly hosted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and other wanted militants. Additionally, the leader also allowed the country to function as a pipeline for Iran to deal arms to Palestinian militants in the Gaza strip. These actions led to the U.S imposing sanctions on Sudan and adding them to the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Mnuchin’s visit to Sudan this week came amid rising tension in Sudan between the military and civilians who currently run the government. Tension arose because the Sudanese army denied the civilian-run finance ministry access to some economic assets they control.
With news breaking out the Mnuchin was in Sudan, some of his supporters urged him to pressure the military and security apparatus to allow fiscal transparency to businesses they control. They argue that total transparency is essential for Sudan to counter the looting of its national economy.