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Two Democratic Senators blocking Sudan bill: report

September 14, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s chances to resolve the main outstanding terror claims this year are diminishing due to objections from two leading democratic senators, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

WSJ has confirmed that in addition Senator Robert Menendez from New Jersey, the Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer from New York is also opposed to the settlement deal between Sudan & families of the 1998 twin embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had issued a statement last week saying that victims of the 9/11 attacks are being sidelined in the deal.

“The State Department is pressuring Congress to pass legislation that would extinguish 9/11 court claims against Sudan even though President Trump and his administration have done nothing to resolve those claims,” he said.

“I have urged the State Department to reconsider its deal and to do better,” he added while also calling for Senate hearings.

Christopher Curran, a U.S. lawyer who represents the Sudanese government told the WSJ that " No court has ever found, by default judgment or otherwise, that Sudan was complicit in 9/11".

Menedez had also objected previously to the deal saying that it discriminates between American & African victims in terms of payout.

Schumer appears more concerned about the 9/11 victims who want to push claims against Sudan despite not having obtained any court judgement against Sudan.

The hope was that the settlement would be part of a major government funding bill that has to be approved this month. It is not clear that it can make it given these objections.

Theoretically, the Trump administration can still proceed to remove Sudan from list of states that sponsor terrorism even if Congress fails to act on the bill which aims to provide a legal shield to Sudan from individual claims related to terror attacks.

Delisting Sudan only requires a notification by the US president to Congress which can block it through a veto-proof majority

Nonetheless the Democratic Senator Chris Coons is still trying to broker a compromise to pass the settlement deal in Congress.

Coons’s plan wouldn’t add 9/11 victims to the embassy bombing settlement but would allow them to sue Sudan under the same legislation they are using to sue Saudi Arabia for allegedly backing the attacks.

It would also extend past 2030 a federal program, the U.S. Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, that provides compensation to them and other terrorism victims.

Many Sudanese are growing frustrated over having to compensate terror victims for actions of the previous Sudanese regime and giving away badly needed hard currency.

The 9/11 claim will likely add to the anger of Sudanese who insist that no evidence links their country to the attack.

The Sudanese ambassador to the U.S., Nureldin Satti said that removing Sudan from the terrorism list was urgent.

“The Sudanese people expected the U.S. to provide immediate support to the democratic transition in Sudan by achieving the delisting process in the weeks following the ouster of the previous dictator al-Bashir,” Satti told WSJ.

The protracted proceedings left many Sudanese believing that “nothing has changed and the U.S. is maintaining the same policies that it practised against the former regime,” he said.

“We know that this is not true, but it is difficult to convince our people that this is not the case.”

(ST)