France to support 'new Sudan' with €60m in aid

Dire financial situation sparked protests in December that led to downfall of President Omar Al Bashir four months later

epa07846779 French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C-L) and Sudanese Foreign Minister Asma Mohamed Abdalla (C-R) arrive for a meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, 16 September 2019. Le Drian arrived in Khartoum for meetings with Sudanese officials to show support for the new government and discuss means of support during the transitional period.  EPA/MARWAN ALI
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France will donate €60 million (Dh242.5 million) in aid to help Sudan’s transition to democracy, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday evening.

Jean-Yves Le Drian also offered to help the country, designated by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism, to restore relations with international lenders and tackle foreign debt.

"We are in a new Sudan, a Sudan that is at a key moment in its history, and France is at the side of this new Sudan," Mr Le Drian said.

He paid tribute to peaceful protests that led to the removal from power of former president Omar Al Bashir in April.

Mr Le Drian spoke alongside Sudanese Foreign Minister Asmaa Abdallah, who was named in a government sworn in last week after a power-sharing deal was agreed on between the military and civilian groups.

Talks on Monday focused on the new Sudanese government's priorities, Mr Le Drian said, including the top priority of fixing an economic crisis that triggered the protests that led to Mr Al Bashir's overthrow.

"We have decided to commit €60m, including €15m very quickly, to help Sudan's transformation and peaceful revolution," he said.

"We would also like to accompany Sudan in its path to full reintegration in the concert of nations, and in the rapid conclusion of a peace agreement with all rebel movements."

Mr Le Drian said France would also lobby with European partners for Sudan to be removed from the US list of countries it considers state sponsors of terrorism.

The listing, which was linked to Mr Al Bashir's three-decade rule, prevents Sudan from receiving much-needed financial aid from international lenders.

"The commitments made, the way the army has understood its role during this period – all that points in the direction of Sudan's exit from this list," Mr Le Drian said.

"We will help Sudan to normalise relations with these international financial institutions and advance in the process that will allow it to obtain a treatment for its foreign debt."