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Sudan Cash Spat Spells Economic, Political Woes

Sudan Cash Spat Spells Economic, Political WoesSudan Cash Spat Spells Economic, Political Woes

Embarrassed by his foreign minister’s dramatic speech to parliament alleging his ministry’s coffers had run dry, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir may have felt he had no option other than to sack Ibrahim Ghandour.

Unfortunately for Bashir, however, the dismissal has only raised more questions about his authority and effectiveness in government, at a time when the country is moving ever closer to an economic precipice, Middleeasteye.net reported.

In fact, by dispensing with his top diplomat and point man on relations with Washington, the president may have made his country’s economic situation only more perilous, and appears likely a backward step in the impoverished East African country’s pursuit of sanctions relief and investment.

Appointed in 2015 and viewed as a pragmatist in a country long considered by the West as a pariah state, Ghandour played a key role in negotiations that concluded with Washington lifting two-decade-old sanctions on Khartoum.

With Sudan facing a spiraling economic crisis, he may have had an important future role to play in keeping the current US administration on the side and encouraging further sanctions relief and international investment.

Remarks in parliament last week, however, spelled the end of his tenure as Sudan’s top diplomat. On 18 April, Ghandour stood in front of parliament, asking the body to step in and help cover costs for his ministry, which he said was facing a financial crisis.

The foreign ministry needed $30 million to cover its costs, Ghandour said, in the first public acknowledgement by a government official that the central bank was struggling to provide foreign currency to cover state institutions’ costs.

“For seven months Sudanese diplomats have not received their salaries, and paying rent for diplomatic missions has also been delayed,” he said. “It seems that there are those who feel that the salaries of diplomats and staff and missions’ rents are not a priority.”

The next day, news broke that Bashir had issued a presidential decree relieving Ghandour of his position.

Some commentators see Ghandour as an honest leader who bravely addressed the crisis, while others criticize him for the disclosure of information deemed a national security threat.

Amjad Farid, a prominent activist and human rights defender, called on the government to resign, saying it was clearly unfit to rule. While renowned US-based Sudanese writer Fathi Aldawi chastised Ghandour for attempting to jump from a sinking ship.

The response is indicative of an increasing polarization in Sudanese politics, including within the government itself.

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