Sudan's Prime Minister Hamdok vows to recover looted state funds

Says he will recover funds wrongly taken under previous administration, to help rebuild country

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok meets with the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on December 4, 2019. / AFP / JIM WATSON
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Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok vowed to recover national funds looted by the previous administration, in efforts to rebuild the country.

Mass demonstrations erupted last December, initially against rises in bread and fuel prices before growing into an uprising demanding political change.

“Everyone has the right to appeal and it is up to the judiciary to make the decision on whether these funds should be obtained,” Mr Hamdok said in a visit to Washington last week.

He took charge in August after a power-sharing agreement was reached between protesters and the military, each having equal representation in the country’s Sovereign Council until elections are held in three years.

“There is a success story that is emerging” in Sudan, Mr Hamdok told an audience at Washington think tank The Atlantic Council.

He said the transitional government was focused on stabilising the country’s fractured economy, fighting corruption, building state institutions and increasing social welfare and infrastructure.

Mr Hamdok said his government's top priority was to "stop the war and build the foundation of sustainable peace".

He said that in “a region full of crises and riddled with conflicts, Sudan provides hopes".

During Mr Hamdok's visit, both countries agreed to enhance their diplomatic relations by appointing ambassadors for the first time in 23 years.

“This decision is a meaningful step forward in strengthening the US-Sudan relationship, particularly as the civilian-led transitional government works to implement the vast reforms under the political agreement and constitutional declaration,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter.

Sudan has come a long way since Mr Al Bashir’s three decades of dictatorship but the country still faces many challenges.

Mr Hamdok also met US National Security Adviser, Robert O’Brien.

The two discussed the removal of Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation the country earned after Mr Al Bashir welcomed Al Qaeda’s former leader, Osama bin Laden.

Mr Hamdok said the removal of his country from the list was crucial for his government’s success in bringing in changes, bringing confidence for investors and tackling Sudan’s high public sector debt, “but also opening the country".

He said the strengthening of diplomatic representation between Washington and Khartoum will “enhance bilateral relations”.

Washington and Khartoum first established diplomatic relations in 1956, the year the vast nation won its independence from Egyptian and British rule.

Sudan severed diplomatic ties with Washington in 1967 to protest against US support for Israel during that year's Arab-Israeli war.

Relations were restored five years later, but Washington closed its embassy in 1996 in response to terrorist threats.

It was reopened in 2002 but has since been led by a charge d’affaires, not an ambassador.