On 17 May, France held a conference of Heads of State and Government in Paris, chaired by Emmanuel Macron, in support of Sudan’s democratic transition.
Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok represented Sudan.
The African Development Bank, the African Union, the League of Arab States, Canada, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, the European Union, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, the International Monetary Fund, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Rwanda, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, the United States, and the World Bank have participated.
The participants welcomed Sudan’s return to the community of nations after more than three decades of isolation. The courage and determination of the Sudanese people, and especially of young people and women, have helped to defeat an authoritarian regime and have paved the way for a transition to democratic rule.
Considerable progress has been made in the exercise of fundamental freedoms since the signature of the constitutional declaration of 17 August 2019. The authorities’ commitment to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women opens up new possibilities with regard to the respect and promotion of their rights. Efforts to pursue the reform of security services will also contribute to the full respect of human rights and the rule of law. The participants noted that the Sudanese people’s search for peace and reconciliation required that its demand for justice be met.
The smooth functioning of the transition institutions is vital to preparing free and transparent elections at the end of the transition period so that a constitution that ensures equal rights for all Sudanese citizens can be drafted and a fully legitimate government can be formed. The participants encouraged the transitional authorities to continue working harmoniously to ensure a successful transition. It is crucial that the Transitional Legislative Council including a significant percentage of women is formed rapidly so that the transitional authorities can be fully established, thereby strengthening their legitimacy. Sudan’s successful transition can and must become a model for Africa and the world at a time when many countries are facing similar challenges.
The signature of the Juba Peace Agreement on 3 October 2020 was an important step in restoring peace, stability and security in all the regions of Sudan. There is still more to be done as recent clashes in Darfur and other regions have shown. Movements which have not joined the peace process are invited to do so at the earliest opportunity. Only a Sudan that offers all of its citizens the same rights and the same opportunities can enable them to live in peace and security. The participants commended the efforts accomplished in this regard by the Sudanese authorities, particularly in implementing the National Plan for Civilian Protection, and the assistance that the UNITAMS in Sudan will be able to provide them.
The participants are deeply concerned about the tensions in the region that threaten its stability and jeopardize development opportunities. It is important that everyone contribute through dialogue to seeking peaceful and mutually beneficial solutions. The participants expressed their firm belief that an agreement could be found on the filling and management of the Renaissance Dam so that it can benefit all countries in the region.
Significant progress has been made with regard to the economy. An agreement with the International Monetary Fund was concluded. Sudan was taken off the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
The participants commended measures aiming to eliminate subsidies in the energy sector and to reunify exchange rates. They welcomed the Sudanese authorities’ commitment to continue to work on reform that has already begun. Following on from the Sudan Partnership Conference held in Berlin in 2020 during which the scope of support for partners in the transition process could be assessed and considerable funds could be raised to this end, the partners reaffirmed their determination to continue to provide their full support to transitional authorities in their efforts to create the conditions for sustainable development and ensure the prosperity of the Sudanese people. They have likewise reaffirmed their solidarity with the Sudanese people as they continue to face extremely difficult living conditions. They commended efforts that have been undertaken and accomplished to improve budgetary governance and the transparency of the public sector, to strengthen the fight against corruption and to extensively reform the banking and monetary sectors. All these measures will help improve the business climate and are essential conditions for the development of a robust and sustainable economic model.
The participants have taken note of the projects put forward by the Government in the Business Forum. They have attracted investors’ interest in the opportunities offered by Sudan and have noted the commitments made by the Government to support their investment projects.
With a 30-year history of failed management, Sudan has considerable and unsustainable external debt. The participants reaffirmed their willingness to support Sudan’s debt being addressed under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, an essential condition for enabling Sudan to restore access to the external financing needed for its development.
To enable Sudan to fulfil the essential condition for its debt relief, namely the repayment of all its multilateral arrears, France announced that it would provide the bridging loan of $1.5 billion to repay Sudan’s arrears to the International Monetary Fund. France’s announcement adds to those related to the clearance of arrears to the World Bank and African Development Bank
Moreover, thanks to these efforts by France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the European Union to clear Sudan’s multilateral arrears, the way has been paved to re-engagement of international financial institutions alongside the Sudanese authorities, which could receive nearly $2 billion in donations over the short term.
Also, the participants have heard international financial institutions’ assessments regarding the Sudanese authorities’ commitment to reform, which is also an important condition for Sudan’s debt relief. They encourage the Transitional Government to continue implementing its reform programme, in order to fully meet this condition.
Given that the conditions for Sudan’s debt relief are fulfilled, France calls on all Sudan’s bilateral creditors, regardless of whether they are members of the Paris Club, to take part from June in a coordinated and equitable manner in the process to help lighten Sudan’s debt burden over the long term. With regard to this process, France reiterates its commitment under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative to take part in the forgiveness of Sudan’s bilateral debt.
The participants reaffirmed their willingness to continue to support the Sudanese authorities’ efforts to enable a successful transition to a fully legitimate and inclusive civilian government that ensures peace, freedom and justice for the Sudanese people.