Minister’s ouster unlikely to slow Sudan’s push to get off US ‘terror’ list

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Khartoum: President Omar Al-Bashir’s dismissal of Sudan’s foreign minister, Khartoum’s top negotiator with Washington, is unlikely to affect efforts to have Khartoum removed from a US “terrorism” blacklist, experts say.

On Thursday, Bashir sacked Ibrahim Ghandour, who headed negotiations with Washington that in October helped lift a decades-old US trade embargo on Khartoum.

His dismissal comes amid an economic crisis in the African country and his replacement, who has yet to be named, is set to inherit a complicated case load.

Ghandour, the first official to publicly raise concerns over Sudan’s economic crisis, was fired a day after he said in parliament that Sudanese diplomats abroad had not been paid in months.

But analysts say his sacking is not expected to derail ties between Khartoum and Washington, which have warmed since the sanctions were lifted.

“Ghandour’s loss will be felt, but his going won’t change Khartoum’s policy direction,” Magnus Taylor, Sudan analyst at the International Crisis Group, told AFP.

By dismissing Ghandour, Khartoum is not changing its “moderate” policy toward Washington, he said.

“Generally, Sudanese are focused on getting themselves out of the SSTL,” Taylor said, referring to Washington’s State Sponsors of Terrorism List.

Although Washington lifted sanctions imposed in 1997 over Khartoum’s alleged support of militant groups, it has kept Sudan on the blacklist along with Iran, Syria and North Korea.

Officials say the US terror tag prevents international banks from doing business with Khartoum, in turn hampering Sudan’s economic revival.

Ghandour had been pushing for Khartoum’s removal from the blacklist in a bid to obtain much needed foreign loans.

“He was useful for negotiations with the US because people thought they can deal with him as he was reasonable, eloquent and intelligent,” Taylor said.
“But Sudan will bring someone else who can do that kind of job.”

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