Sudan Will See Benefits From Israeli Meeting, Al-Burhan Says

(Bloomberg) -- The head of Sudan’s ruling council said the benefits of his meeting with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu will be apparent soon, as controversy swirled at home over his apparent historic vow to move toward recognizing the Jewish state.

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan stressed the aim of Monday’s talks with the Israeli prime minister was to help alleviate the nation’s economic plight, much of which stems from its U.S. designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, according to comments reported Wednesday by pan-Arab TV stations.

Al-Burhan, a lieutenant general, also said he’d notified Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok ahead of the meeting, which was arranged by the U.S. Sudan is being run by a joint civilian-military administration until elections slated for 2022, and the information minister previously said the government hadn’t received advance notice.

News of the meeting sparked intense debate in Muslim-majority Sudan, which is edging toward democracy after President Omar al-Bashir’s three decades of authoritarian rule ended with his overthrow last year. No Sudanese government since independence in 1956 has had official ties with Israel, while the capital, Khartoum, was the venue for the 1967 Arab League summit that famously declared the so-called “Three No’s”: no peace, no recognition and no negotiations.

The U.S. lifted sanctions on Sudan in the final years of Bashir’s regime, although it gave little boost to an economy devastated by years of mismanagement. The African nation’s continued designation as a terror sponsor has also prevented any serious foreign investment, according to officials from the transitional government, who have campaigned vigorously for its removal from the list.

Hamdok earlier Wednesday called for the transitional government “as a whole” to ensure “accountability, responsibility and transparency.” He stressed that decisions on foreign affairs had to made by the cabinet, as outlined in a key power-sharing agreement struck between the army and civilian activists after tense negotiations last year.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, a once-clandestine group that organized the protests that helped bring Bashir down, on Wednesday denounced Burhan’s meeting, and said normalization with Israel was a serious decision that shouldn’t be taken by a transitional government.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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