France cancels Sudan’s $5 billion debt, affirms its support for transitional leadership

French President Emmanuel Macron announced the cancellation of Sudan’s $5 billion debt to France in an effort to support the country’s transitional leadership and help its crippled economy recovering, at a Paris conference gathering African leaders and international creditors.

Macron hosted the event on Monday for General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.

The heads of state of neighboring Egypt and Ethiopia were notably attending, as well as the International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat.

The conference aimed at marking Sudan’s reintegration into the international community after three decades of isolation.

A popular uprising in the African nation led to the military’s overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

“We are in favor of entirely canceling Sudan’s debt (towards France),” Macron said in a news conference. “We are expecting from other participants… to make a similar effort, which is the needed effort to free Sudan from the debt burden.”

Macron said a global process of reduction of Sudan’s debt should be formally launched by the IMF by the end of June.

France will also provide a $1.5 billion loan to clear Sudan’s arrears to the IMF, he added.

Sudan’s transitional government has taken a set of measures in recent months to transform the country’s economy.

That measures included a managed flotation of the Sudanese pound in an unprecedented step that led to hikes in the price of fuel and other essential goods.

The flotation was a key demand by the IMF, with which Sudan is expected to end in September a 12-month program to win relief on its foreign debt, which is at $70 billion.

Hamdok also commented after Sudan’s military handed over around 100 suspects to prosecutors to investigate their involvement in the killing of two protesters during a rally in Khartoum last week.

Demonstrators had gathered outside the military’s headquarters demanding justice for the dozens killed in a crackdown on protesters during and after a popular uprising that led to the military’s overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

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