Sudan Secures $300M Loan, protests against Al-Bashir persists

Sudan’s Finance Ministry secured a $230 million loan to support the country’s balance of Payments
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir chairs a meeting of leaders of some political parties in the capital Khartoum on March 7, 2019. – The meeting discussed the ongoing political crisis in the east African country triggered by weeks-long protests against the veteran leader’s rule stretching back three decades. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Hundreds of Sudanese took part in anti-government protests in the capital and other cities on Sunday as the government announced it had secured $300 million in loans to address the economic crisis that triggered unrest.

The demonstrations began in December over price hikes and food shortages, and quickly escalated into calls for President Omar al-Bashir to step down, posing one of the biggest challenges yet to his nearly 30-year rule. Security forces have responded with a fierce crackdown that has killed dozens of people.

The rallies are being led by the Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of independent professional unions. Sunday’s demonstrations took place as a U.S. congress delegation visits Sudan to meet with government officials and opposition leaders, ahead of the start of a second phase of dialogue between the two countries.

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In 2017, the U.S. lifted decades-long sanctions, arguing that Sudan is making progress in areas of concern, including improving humanitarian access. The State Department last year agreed to a second phase of rapprochement with Sudan, laying out priorities to reconcile the two nations which have been at odds for nearly three decades.

Sudan’s Finance Ministry secured a $230 million loan from the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund to support the country’s balance of Payments.

The ministry signed another deal worth $70 million with the Arab Trade Financing Program, which is also based in the Emirati capital.

Al-Bashir, who seized power in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989, has responded to the protests by suspending plans for constitutional amendments that would allow him to seek a new term in next year’s elections. He has also stepped down as leader of the ruling party, appointing a loyalist in his place.

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