Hamdok to Asharq Al-Awsat: Our Relations With US Are Advancing, No Fear with Ethiopia
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said his country’s removal from the US terrorism list was very imminent, noting a “significant progress” in the relations with the United States.
He pointed to some pending points pertaining to compensation for the bombings of the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es-Salam.
“Even in this case, we have made great strides, and we expect to reach an end soon,” he stressed. “Since we came to power, we have been working to address the issue of terrorism, and we have made great progress, and we expect this file to be resolved soon.”
In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Hamdok said the two countries had agreed to exchange ambassadors, but noted that the issue was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“We agreed on my visit to Washington last December to exchange ambassadors. America had not had an ambassador to Sudan for 23 years; so they decided to appoint an ambassador, and this is considered as major progress in relations between the two countries. I believe that the conditions related to the coronavirus pandemic led to delaying the appointment,” he remarked.
The Sudanese prime minister said he was seeking to establish “strong relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that go beyond aid to unlimited integration.”
He emphasized that the relations with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi were “very good.”
“We commend the support that we receive from them, but we aspire for relations that rise higher than donations,” he underlined, calling on the two Gulf capitals to boost their investments in the African country.
“We seek to bring the Saudi and Emirati capitals to invest in our country with billions of dollars, because we have the capabilities and benefits that enable this integration to happen. We want this relationship to surpass the limits of aid, but rather go to broader horizons,” Hamdok told Asharq Al-Awsat.
On a different note, the Sudanese premier said he was not worried about an escalation with Ethiopia after the recent border tensions, stressing that the two countries had some mechanisms “that can help in dealing with the crisis.”
He stressed that his country was engaged in the Renaissance Dam and expected “very great benefits”.
“What we have done is to help the three parties stop the escalation and return to the negotiating table, to reach an agreement that would enable Ethiopia to fill the reservoir of the dam before beginning to fill the lake,” he explained.
On the internal level, Hamdok highlighted his ability to solve Sudan’s economic crises, saying: “If I were not convinced about my ability to tackle the economic crisis, I would not stay in my position for a day.”
“We are completely convinced that we are a country rich in many resources, and we inherited a completely collapsed economy; but with our unity and ability to address the local components and the outside world around us, we can create a climate in the short term that helps us overcome our problems,” he said.
Commenting on recent Security Council resolutions in response to the government’s request to establish a political mission for Sudan and extend the term of the UNAMID mission, Hamdok said: “We asked to send a political mission to Sudan… and the decision was met with approval from the international community and the Security Council. It is a mission to help us in the challenges of transition, especially the peace process.”
“This process is carried out based on the vision of the Sudanese government, and this is what the UN Security Council mentioned: that the process be carried out according to the preservation of national sovereignty,” he emphasized.
Asked about the peace process with armed groups, the prime minister noted that he was in direct and permanent contact with the leaders of the Revolutionary Front and other armed movements that were not involved in the negotiations.
“The Sovereign Council is part of the transitional authority. We are an integrated transitional government, and there is no competition between us,” he stated.
He continued: “We did not expect that peace would take so long; this is because of the increasing optimism over stopping the war and building peace, as a prerequisite to sustainable democracy.”
Asked about the government’s opinion on the recent tensions in Darfur between the army and the Sudan Liberation Movement, Hamdok said that since the beginning of the transitional period, clashes and problems of an ethnic and tribal nature in the states of Darfur, Port Sudan, Kassala, and Kadugli have not ceased.
He explained that these conflicts and clashes were due to the mass destruction that the ousted regime had created.
“These are challenges facing the transitional government, and they need a special solution… To stop this, we have developed a method based on law enforcement to impose state prestige,” he underlined.
Asked about his achievements nine months after the formation of the transitional government, the prime minister said: “We have set a program for the transitional period based on 10 priorities, the most important of which is the file of peace and the economy.”
He added that despite the slow pace of the peace process, “we believe it is moving in the right direction, especially the documents that we reached during the negotiations.”
Hamdok pointed to the country’s progress in agricultural production, saying: “The biggest government success was that of the winter agricultural season and the high productivity of the wheat crop. The government participated in it, but the credit goes to the farmers. What happened bodes well that we can achieve wheat sufficiency and even export it.”
He also pointed to the amendment of salaries, which has been neglected for a long time, in addition to tackling the liquidity scarcity, and other issues.