Saudi Arabia, UAE to send $3 billion in aid to Sudan
* Aid package includes $500 mln central bank deposit
* Saudi, UAE also sending food, fuel and medicine
* Proposed military-civilian ruling council being discussed
* Burhan confirms Bashir, other former officials in jail
(Adds opposition group says to suspend contacts with military
By Khalid Abdelaziz
KHARTOUM, April 21 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates said on Sunday they had agreed to send Sudan $3
billion worth of aid, throwing a lifeline to the country's new
military leaders after protests led to the ousting of president
The two Gulf Arab countries will deposit $500 million with
the Sudanese central bank and send the rest in the form of food,
medicine and petroleum products, their state news agencies said
in parallel statements.
But in a potential setback to efforts to form a new
government, a coalition of protesters and opposition groups said
it was suspending contacts with the political committee of the
military rulers' Transitional Military Council, accusing it of
being composed of "remnants" of the ousted regime.
"Our dealings with the political committee had been positive
but it deals with us in the same old manner, which prompted us
to suspend dealings with it," a leader of the group known as
Forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change, told Reuters.
Sudan's TMC is under pressure from protesters who have kept
up a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry since Bashir was ousted
on April 11. They demonstrated in large numbers over the past
three days, pressing for a rapid handover to civilian rule.
TMC head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan told state TV that the
council had received many blueprints on how to manage the
transitional period and that the formation of a joint
military-civilian council - one of the demands put forward by
Sudanese activists - was being considered.
"The issue has been put forward for discussion and a vision
has yet to be reached," he said.
"The role of the military council complements the uprising
and the blessed revolution," said Burhan, adding that the TMC
was committed to handing power over to the people.
Burhan also confirmed for the first time that Bashir and a
number of former officials, including presidential aide Nafie
Ali Nafie, acting party head Ahmed Haroun and former first vice
president Ali Osman Taha, are being held at a high-security
prison in Khartoum North.
"All of them are at Kobar prison," he said, adding that "a
large number of symbols of the former regime suspected of
corruption will stand trial".
Burhan said authorities had found 7 million euros ($7.8
million) in Bashir's home, along with $350,000, slightly more
than previously reported.
A judicial source said on Saturday that Sudanese military
intelligence officers had found suitcases of cash in foreign
currency as well as Sudanese pounds when they searched Bashir's
The aid from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is
the first major publicly announced assistance to Sudan from Gulf
states in several years.
"This is to strengthen its financial position, ease the
pressure on the Sudanese pound and increase stability in the
exchange rate," the Saudi Press Agency said.
Sudan's state news agency said the central bank strengthened
the Sudanese pound to 45 pounds to the dollar from 47.5, in a
measure that coincided with the sharp rise in the price of the
pound against the dollar on the parallel market.
The two Gulf states have ties with Burhan and his deputy,
Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, through their participation in the
Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
Sudan has been suffering from a deepening economic crisis
that has caused cash shortages and long queues at bakeries and
Analysts have blamed the crisis on economic mismanagement,
corruption, and the impact of U.S. sanctions, as well as the
loss of oil revenue when South Sudan seceded in 2011.
In October 2017, the United States lifted some trade and
economic sanctions on Sudan, but Sudan remained on the list of
countries that the United States considers to be sponsors of
Burhan said a committee could travel to the United States
for discussions about lifting Sudan from the list by next week.
Washington has said Sudan will not be removed from the list as
long as the military is in power.
The designation makes Sudan ineligible for desperately
needed debt relief and financing from international lenders.
The United States agreed in November to talks with Bashir's
government on how to get Sudan removed from the list, but no
resolution was reached before his overthrow on April 11
following weeks of increasing public unrest.
Over the last few years, Sudan's cash-short government
expanded money supply to cover the cost of expensive subsidies
on fuel, wheat and pharmaceuticals, causing annual inflation of
73 percent and the Sudanese pound to plunge against the dollar.
($1 = 0.8891 euros)
(Additional reporting by Maha El Dahan, Nafisa Eltahir, Omar
Fahmy and Sami Aboudi, Writing by Aidan Lewis, Editing by Susan
Fenton and Louise Heavens)
First Published: 2019-04-21 18:49:58
Updated 2019-04-21 20:31:43
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