France holds global talks to offer debt relief for Sudan

France holds global talks to offer debt relief for Sudan

Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron waits for the start of the summit to support Sudan, Monday, May 17, 2021 at the Grand Palais Ephemere in Paris. French, African leaders and heads of international organizations are holding on Monday a conference in Paris to negotiate debt relief and raise global support for Sudan’s transitional leadership. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) — French and African leaders and international organizations were holding a conference Monday in Paris to negotiate debt relief and raise global support for Sudan’s transitional leadership.

French President Emmanuel Macron was hosting the event in the presence Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, in charge of making changes in the African nation after a popular uprising led to the military’s overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

The conference is taking place along with the heads of state of neighboring Egypt and Ethiopia as well as the International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat.

It “is meant to be a kind of re-introduction of the ‘new’ Sudan to the concert of nations, ending 30 years of international isolation,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday.

Macron’s office said the event aims at having talks on how to boost investment in Sudan and negotiate debt relief.

Sudan’s transitional government has taken a set of measures in recent months to transform the country’s economy and rejoin the international community after over two decades of isolation. 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.

Le Maire called Monday for “the urgent implementation of a debt treatment” and the “clearance” of Sudan’s arrears toward multilateral and bilateral institutions.

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