Sudan Vows to Crack Down on Smugglers as Currency Falls

Sudan’s transitional government declared an economic emergency Thursday, blaming the drop in the country’s currency on widespread smuggling carried about by associates of the deposed dictator Omar al-Bashir.

The minister of finance, Hiba Mohamed Ali, said that special courts would be established to crack down on smugglers as the Sudanese pound continues to decline against the U.S. dollar.

The minister declared at a press conference in Khartoum that there was no logical economic reason for the pound’s drop other than sabotage by agents of the old regime operating in the black market.

The minister of justice said that smugglers would be punished by 10 years in prison. Reuters reported that selling, buying, possessing or illegally moving raw gold would be criminal offenses under the emergency.

Also Thursday, an economic adviser to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, said that the European Union would soon begin sending more than 300 million euros in aid as part of a commitment made at a donor conference.

Last month, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo became the highest-ranking U.S. official in more than a decade to visit Sudan, underscoring a dramatic turnaround in relations with the African country that became an international pariah under Bashir’s long rule.

Days after his visit, the government initialed a peace deal with rebels, sparking expectations of an end to fighting that ravaged Darfur and other parts of the African nation. Bashir, who was overthrown by the army last year, has been charged by the International Criminal Court with war crimes during the Darfur conflict.

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