Macron hosts summit on Sudan’s post-Bashir plans

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, left, is welcomed by his host France’s Emmanuel Macron to Paris for summits on Sudan and Africa. Photo/PD/AFP

The French government promised Monday to lend $1.5 billion to Sudan to help it pay off its massive foreign debt, kicking off an international summit aimed at helping the aspiring democracy emerge from decades of authoritarian rule. 

The conference hosted by President Emmanuel Macron aims to provide financing breathing room for Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok as he pursues economic reforms while paying off a foreign debt bill of $60 billion.

“Rebuilding an attractive and resilient market takes time, but today, I hope we will convince private investors that the fundamentals for business are fully there,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said ahead of the summit.

“President Macron will confirm later today that France will provide the $1.5 billion bridge loan to clear Sudan’s arrears to the IMF,” he said.

Foreign policy

Several heads of state are in Paris to also discuss investment in Sudan, as is International Monetary Fund director Kristalina Georgieva, along with top European diplomats including EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Hamdok is pushing to rebuild and reform a crippled economy and end Sudan’s international isolation under former strongman Omar al-Bashir, whose three decades of rule were marked by economic hardship and international sanctions.

On Tuesday, a Paris summit on African economies will try to fill a financing shortfall of almost $300 billion caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both meetings, held in a temporary exhibition centre near the Eiffel Tower, present a chance for Macron to show himself as a statesman on Africa whose influence goes beyond the continent’s Francophone regions.

The meetings will also mark a return to in-person top-level gatherings after the Covid-19 pandemic made video conferences the norm.

Among those attending both meetings will be Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a rare visit to France as Paris presses for reconciliation with Kigali after a historic report made clear French failings over the 1994 genocide.

Also attending is Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, making another journey to key ally France after his state visit in late 2020 enraged rights activists. - BBC

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