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Saudi Arabia, UAE announce $3 billion aid for Sudan

King Salman of Saudi Arabia (AP file photo)
April 21, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday announced a joint initiative to provide $3 billion in assistance to Sudan.

According to the Saudi state news agency SPA, the grant includes a $500 million deposit into Sudan’s central bank to strengthen the country’s monetary reserves.

The rest of the assistance bundle will be in the form of food, medicine, and petroleum products.

Large protests that started on 19 December 2018 have led to the ouster of former President Omer al-Bashir and a Transitional Military Council (TMC) has taken over power on 11 April.

The resentment over the government’s inability to address fundamental economic issues has helped fuel the protests.

Sudan lost 75% of its oil reserves after the southern part of the country became an independent nation in July 2011, denying the north billions of dollars in revenues. Oil revenue constituted more than half of Sudan’s revenue and 90 percent of its exports.

The withdrawal of South Sudan oil has compounded the difficult external environment, including debt arrears, limited access to external financing, U.S. sanctions, and the withdrawal of correspondent bank relations.

The country’s inflation rate reached 73 per cent in December.

The most recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) report indicated that Sudan’s gross international reserves remained very low in 2017 ($1.1 billion, 1¾ months of imports).

(ST)