Sudan’s Hamdok talks Saudi support and Red Sea security in Riyadh

On the same day, US ambassador to the UN calls for implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement signed by Sudan's civilian-led transitional government

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Reuters/AFP
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Saudi Arabia plays an important role in supporting the Sudanese peace process, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said during a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Mr Hamdok thanked the crown prince for hosting the Friends of Sudan meeting last year to bolster support for the political transition in Sudan and to help get aid to bolster the free-falling economy, state-run Sudan News Agency reported.

Mr Hamdok was accompanied by a high-level delegation of five ministers on the visit, including the head of intelligence and Sudan's central bank governor.

Crown Prince Mohammed and Mr Hamdok also discussed Red Sea security and co-operating on investment and business ties.

Meanwhile, the United States on Tuesday called on Sudan to build an inclusive and representative government that ensures peace, supports people on the margins and helps “those who have suffered [to] achieve justice”.

US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield called for implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement signed six months ago by the civilian-led transitional government and rebel groups, saying so far "the Sudanese people have not seen the commitment and engagement by signatory parties necessary for progress".

She told the UN Security Council that Sudan should also complete the formation of an inclusive Transitional Legislative Council, where women comprise at least 40 per cent of the representatives.

On February 10, a new Cabinet was sworn in that includes rebel ministers as part of the power-sharing deal the transitional authorities struck in Juba with a rebel alliance .

Sudan’s largest single rebel group, Sudan Liberation Movement-North led by Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu, held talks with the transitional government but has yet to reach a deal with the government.

Another major rebel group, Sudan Liberation Movement-Army in the Darfur region, which is led by Abdel-Wahid Nour, rejects the transitional government and has not taken part in the talks.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield said a "shocking attack" in West Darfur in January, which reportedly killed 163 people and displaced about 50,000, was "a tragic reminder of the ongoing threats that civilians face in Sudan".

She called on the government to establish security forces, rule of law and justice institutions in Darfur, including the Special Court for Darfur Crimes.

Volker Perthes, the new UN special envoy for Sudan and head of Unitams, said in his first briefing to the Security Council that "Sudan is making significant advances in its transition. However, the remaining challenges are staggering".

He pointed to the new Cabinet including signatories of the Juba agreement, and the government’s agreement on national priorities.

Mr Perthes also said that "economic hardships are posing a risk to Sudan's stability" and that inflation was at 304 per cent in January".

He said that the country suffers from high rates of unemployment and poverty, with 13.4 million people – a quarter of the population – projected to need humanitarian assistance.

Mr Perthes and Ms Thomas-Greenfield expressed concern at rising tensions along the Sudan-Ethiopia border.

Sudan's transitional government faces serious challenges, including a huge budget deficit and widespread shortages of essential goods and soaring prices of bread and other staples.

The country is $70 billion in debt and the rapidly deteriorating economic conditions triggered protests this year in Khartoum and other cities across the country.

On February 21, Sudan began a managed flotation of its currency, an unprecedented but expected step to meet a major demand by international financial institutions to help transitional authorities overhaul the battered economy.