The new Sudanese top diplomat in Washington said his country is committed to correcting the mistakes of former rulers of Sudan.
“This [Sudanese] revolution, you know, has come because of certain errors being committed in the past and because the people, the overwhelming majority of the Sudanese people, have realized that the ways of the Islamists were not in the interest of the country,” said Ambassador Nureldin Satti.
“Now that we are building democracy, we know that we have to deal with diversity of issues, and we will work to build consensus around issues that benefit the national interests of Sudan,” he said.
Satti was appointed May 5, 2020, as the first ambassador to the United States after 23 years of strained relations between the two countries.
“The fact that I am the first ambassador in 23 years of downgraded diplomatic relations between two countries, I am being met [in Washington] with a lot of interest, and I received a lot of support from all those concerned in the U.S.,” Satti said.
Speaking this week in an exclusive interview to VOA’s South Sudan in Focus program, Satti said he sees recent moves by the U.S. officials as a “game changer.”
“I was well-received at the U.S. State Department. Even when they [department officials] were not receiving ambassadors in person due to COVID-19 restrictions, I was one of those they received in person,” Satti said.
The Sudanese envoy says as long as there is a political will between Washington and Khartoum, the two countries will move forward in areas of investment, security and development.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced on October 20 that the United States would remove Sudan from its State Sponsors of Terrorism list after the country agreed to follow through on an agreement to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to U.S. terror victims and their families.
The U.S. placed Sudan on the list for giving haven to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida in the 1990s.
Washington also encouraged the military and civilian leaders in Khartoum to establish ties with Israel, a move that sparked opposition from Islamists and the Umma party of the country’s former prime minister, Sadiq El Mahdi.
“We have for the last 70 years been in a kind of a hostile, antagonist relations in the region. It is high time that we try something else,” Satti told VOA.
“Sudan is building a new democracy and it is opening to the international community. We would like to change course because what we have been doing since independence in 1956 has taken us to nowhere,” Satti said.
An increase in bread prices triggered the demonstrations that led to the downfall of President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. The civilian and military leaders in Sudan’s transitional government are still faced with serious challenges, including high inflation, skyrocketing prices of basic food commodities, and fuel shortages.
“We knew since the beginning that it was not going to be an easy task to rebuild an economy that has been devastated by three decades of mismanagement and corruption,” Satti said. He predicted it would take five years for Sudan’s economy to stabilize.
He said the August 31, 2020, peace agreement signed in Juba by the Sudan Sovereign Council and an umbrella group of the rebel Sudan Revolution Front will silence the guns around the country and pave the way for economic development.
The government has fought low-level insurgencies in the states of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan for years.
Accountability for crimes
Satti said since fighting has stopped in Darfur, his government is working on plans to turn a new page in the region. “Certain decisions are being taken in order to put polices in place for compensating the people of Darfur for the losses they have incurred during the last so many decades,” he said without elaborating.
The new ambassador said Sudan is also working on establishing a mechanism to address issues of justice and reconciliation for the people of Sudan. Bashir, the former president, is currently in a Khartoum prison after being convicted on corruption charges, but he and several allies are wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and genocide in Darfur.
Source: Voice of America