US reinstates Sudan’s sovereign immunity

Source: AFP Published: 2020/12/22 17:28:40

Photo taken on Dec. 17, 2020 shows mirrors reflecting an image of a Sudanese citizen wearing face mask as the health precaution against COVID-19 in Khartoum, Sudan. (Photo by Mohamed Khidir/Xinhua)

The US on Monday reinstated Sudan's sovereign immunity, as the US Congress passed legislation formalizing the move, following the ending of Sudan's designation as a state sponsor of terror.

The legislation includes an exemption allowing lawsuits by the families of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US already underway in US courts to move forward, although experts say Sudan is unlikely to lose those cases.

The state sponsor of terror designation, which was in place for almost three decades, had weighed on Sudan's economy and restricted its ability to receive aid. For investors, the reinstating of sovereign immunity removes another layer of financial risk.

Sudan had been engaged in talks with the US for months, and paid a negotiated $335 million settlement to victims of Al Qaeda attacks on US embassies in East Africa in 1998 who had been awarded much higher damages by US courts.

The process to release the settlement money and restore Sudan's sovereign immunity - protection against being sued in American courts - had been stalled in the US Congress as it had been tied to the $900 billion coronavirus aid package.

Last week, Sudan's finance minister announced a US "bridge loan" that would allow Sudan to clear $1 billion in arrears to the World Bank.

A US source familiar with the matter said the debt assistance would help kick off Sudan's debt relief on a global level, helping make it eligible for the International Monetary Fund's Highly Indebted Poor Countries program.


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