Sudan hopes to return to global fold after UN sanctions lifted
Sudan said Saturday, September 29, it hoped to return to the global fold after the United Nations lifted terrorism-linked sanctions, and convince Washington both to end its own unilateral sanctions and strike Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Opposition officials and the media joined the chorus welcoming Friday's Security Council vote to end the largely symbolic diplomatic sanctions, with one paper saying it had lifted a "psychological burden" from Sudan.
Foreign Minister Mustafa Usman Ismail said the decision, coming in the wake of the September 11 hijacked plane attacks on the US, endorsed Sudan as "a safe country whose people are not linked in any way to ... terrorism."
The sanctions were imposed in 1996 to force Sudan to extradite Egyptian Muslim fundamentalists suspected of trying to kill Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in Addis Ababa. They were never handed over, but it is widely accepted that they are no longer in Sudan.
"The Sudan will now seek, through diplomatic means, to regain its rights with the regional and international institutions and to have the remaining unilateral and multilateral sanctions removed," Ismail told reporters.
The sanctions had forced all UN states to reduce the number and level of Sudanese diplomats in their countries and banned Sudan from hosting international conferences, although they were only loosely implemented.
Ismail said the next step was to persuade Washington to lift its own sanctions against Khartoum and play an active role in solving Sudan's problems, in a reference to US involvement in ending an 18-year civil war.
He expected the US to lift the sanctions in "the near future," while Justice Minister Ali Muhamad Usman Yassin said the UN vote would "pave the way" for removing Sudan from Washington's list of terrorism sponsors.
The foreign minister said the decision would also contribute to normalizing relations with the European Union and improving Sudan's image abroad. Ismail added that Sudan regarded the United States' abstention from the 14-0 vote to end the sanctions as "a positive position indicating its approval of the decision."
Washington has heaped praise on Sudan in recent days for cooperating in combating terrorism, with State Department spokesman Richard Boucher saying Khartoum had "worked with us to eliminate the presence of terrorist groups that could threaten American interests."
"We welcome the steps that they've taken," he said, adding though that Washington wanted to see more action from Khartoum before removing it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Justice Minister Yassin meanwhile denied that the vote to lift the UN sanctions was "a reward for some job," claiming it was the result of five years of strenuous diplomatic efforts.
Opposition Umma Party chief Sadiq Al-Mahdi welcomed the UN decision, saying it could help find a political solution to the country's brutal civil war "by removing international impediments towards peace."
The independent Al-Khartoum newspaper meanwhile said the end of sanctions "opens the door wide to us to reintroduce the Sudan to the world as a country that advocates tolerance and moderation and rejects extremism and violence."
"Although they were not as effective as their sponsors sought, the sanctions constituted a burden on the Sudanese people who felt offended that their country was looked upon by the world as an outcast of the international legitimacy," the paper said. ― (AFP, Khartoum)
by Mohamed Ali Saeed
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)