French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrives in Khartoum today for a visit aimed at supporting Sudan’s new government.
Le Drian is expected to meet with Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok and General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the military leader of Sudan’s Sovereign Council. Talks are likely to focus on economic cooperation.
High unemployment, an inflation rate of 32% and food shortages were behind mass protests that led to long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir being deposed in April. As such, Paris will be keen to offer support for Khartoum to address these issues and prevent any public discontent that could topple Sudan’s fragile transitional government.
Hamdok declared last month that Sudan needs some $10 billion over the next two years to cover imports—Paris may pledge financial aid in the short-term, specifically to purchase food and medicine.
More importantly, expect Le Drian to assure Khartoum that France will lobby the US to remove Sudan from its state sponsor of terrorism list. Removal from the list would allow Sudan to access IMF assistance, potentially opening an avenue for a bailout to cover most, if not all, the $10 billion it needs and to restructure its $60 billion debt.
Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.