Sudan central bank announces US sanctions lifted on 157 companies

The Sudanese central bank said on Wednesday that the United States had informed Khartoum that it was lifting sanctions against 157 Sudanese companies, in accordance with Washington’s policy change in late 2017.

Central bank governor Badreddine Abdelrahim said in a statement that “only a few Sudanese individuals and entities remain under US sanctions for their links to the conflict in Darfur,” a region struck by protracted conflict that began in 2003.

The United States announced the end of its 20-year trade embargo against Sudan in October 2017, but kept the country on its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Abdelrahim did not say why Washington’s latest decision came so long after it said it was ending its sanctions regime.

The announcement comes as Sudan is struggling to revive its economy and return to the international stage after the ouster in April 2019 of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Former leader wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the conflict in the western region of Darfur, which killed 300,000 and displaced 2.5 million people others, according to United Nations data.

Sudan’s transitional authorities agreed last month to transfer him for trial by the court in The Hague.

Possible international transactions

According to Abdelrahim, the lifting of the sanctions means that the companies concerned – including banking institutions – can now carry out international transactions.

A central bank official recently announced that several Sudanese banks are on the verge of entering into agreements to start issuing US credit cards.

Sudan’s economy has been hit hard by two decades of US sanctions imposed for human rights violations and alleged support for “terrorist” groups.

Relations deteriorated shortly after Bashir came to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989.

Sudan has been on the list of states that have sponsored terrorism in Washington since 1993 – a status that the country’s transitional authorities are pressuring to overturn.

The founder of Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, lived in Khartoum between 1992 and 1996.

Rising inflation and acute hardship were the main triggers of a protest movement that erupted in December 2018 and led to the overthrow of Bashir.