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AFRICA: UN warns world may pay ‘terrible price’ if it fails Sudan

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A top UN official has warned that the international community would “pay a terrible price” if it fails to help rebuild Sudan’s dilapidated economy as the African country transitions to civilian rule.

“The story of Sudan in year 2020 is not the story of the previous government,” United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) administrator Achim Steiner told AFP in an interview during his visit to Sudan this week.

“It is the story in which waiting for too long to actually step in and support this (development) process may have a terrible price.”

More than a year after the start of a nationwide protest movement that led to the ouster of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir last April, Sudan faces a series of challenges driven by an economic crisis.

Years of recession were a key trigger for the protest movement against Bashir’s 30-year-old autocratic regime.

Months after he was ousted, the economy remains burdened with foreign debt of more than $60bn, inflation of about 60%, soaring unemployment and chronic shortage of fuel and foreign currency.

But these challenges are exactly the opportunity for the international community to step in and help Sudan, said Steiner, the first UNDP chief to ever visit the northeast African country.

“Here is a country in which the youth, and particularly the women, have not only managed to pull off a peaceful revolution in large part, but they actually have an agenda to build a developmental state,” Steiner said.

“The international community must recognise how unusual and how extraordinarily helpful this is in a region that is otherwise providing more and more worrying news about political instability and about extremism.”

‘Danger in forgetting Sudan’

Sudanese officials say there has been a lacklustre response from the international community to the country’s reform process led by new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, a well-respected economist.

Most blame Washington’s continued blacklisting of Sudan as a “state sponsor of terrorism”, which makes international banking cumbersome and keeps overseas investors away.

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