US pauses US$700 mln in aid to Sudan after military takeover

The United States on Monday suspended $700 million in aid to Sudan after a military takeover and urged the immediate restoration of a civilian government.

“The civilian-led transitional government should be immediately restored and represents the will of the people,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

“In light of these developments, the United States is pausing assistance,” Price said.

He said the suspension concerned a $700 million package in economic support meant to assist Sudan’s democratic transition following the ouster of a dictator two years ago.

“We are pausing that full amount,” Price said.

“We are very much standing with the people of Sudan. The people of Sudan have made clear their aspirations for the continuation of transition to democracy and we will continue to support that including, if needed, by holding accountable those responsible for these anti-democratic actions.”

He also warned the military to “refrain from any violence against protesters” after three people were killed in a crackdown on demonstrators against the takeover.

Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in a televised address said that the armed forces had rounded up government leaders who have been heading the transition to full civilian rule.

The hybrid setup was established following the ouster in April 2019 of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in the face of widespread protests led by youth.

Jeffrey Feltman, the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, had been visiting Sudan before the military intervention. 

Price said that Feltman had no previous knowledge of the military’s intentions and would have warned against the move.

He also said that the United States had not been able to make contact with Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who was taken away with his wife from his home.

Senator Chris Coons, a close ally of President Joe Biden and who heads the Senate panel in charge of foreign aid, also warned that Washington would not authorize funds to a military regime.

US assistance “will end if the authority of PM Hamdok and the full transitional government is not restored,” he wrote on Twitter.

Under US law, the United States is obliged to end most assistance to nations where the military ousts civilian leaders.

Price said that the designation was not relevant as a coup designation remains in effect for Sudan since 1989 when Bashir took power.

“We consider it to be a military takeover,” Price said of the latest events.