Arab states support Sudan transition, want stability: UAE minister

Wednesday May 1 2019

Sudanese protesters, sitting atop a bus, arrive to join the sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 27, 2019. PHOTO | AFP

Sudanese protesters, sitting atop a bus, arrive to join the sit-in outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 27, 2019. PHOTO | AFP 

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The UAE said Wednesday it supported an "orderly" transition in Sudan where military leaders who toppled veteran president Omar al-Bashir are locked in a standoff with protesters demanding civilian rule.

The United Arab Emirates, along with its Gulf ally Saudi Arabia, had provided an economic lifeline to Bashir's regime after it broke ranks with their arch foe Iran in 2016 and sent hundreds of ground troops to join a Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen.

Since his ouster, they have pledged three billion dollars (2.7 billion euros) in financial assistance to Sudan's new military rulers, as they seek to consolidate relations and prevent any repetition of the chaos of the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.

"Totally legitimate for Arab states to support an orderly and stable transition in Sudan," the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Twitter.

"One that carefully calibrates popular aspirations with institutional stability.

"We have experienced all-out chaos in the region and, sensibly, don't need more of it," Gargash said.

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Sudanese protesters have called for a mass rally in the capital Khartoum on Thursday, insisting the army is not serious about handing power to civilians nearly three weeks after it toppled Bashir.

Civilian govt

The army has so far rejected protesters' demands for a civilian-led body to replace the ruling military council, saying that a proposed joint body should be led by current military ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and have a military majority.

Sudan is heavily dependent on the financial support of its newfound Gulf Arab allies and one of the first actions of the military council was to promise no change in Khartoum's commitment to the war in Yemen.

With the loss of most of its oil production to the newly independent South Sudan in 2011, Sudan lost more than half of its foreign exchange earnings leading to a chronic shortage of hard currency that has led to spiralling inflation and frequent shortages of imported commodities.
A tripling by the government of the price of the bread in the face of a chronic shortage of flour was the immediate trigger for the four months of nationwide protests that led up to Bashir's overthrow.
Central bank deposits by the UAE and Saudi Arabia have so far staved off any further slide in the value of the Sudanese pound, while cheap credit for imports of basic goods has averted more widespread shortages.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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