Washington — The US Congress overwhelmingly approved a draft resolution on Thursday, condemning the October 25 military coup, and voicing support for the people of Sudan. It also demands that the military junta lift the State of Emergency and return the country to the path of democratic transition.
Resolution H.Con.Res.59, introduced in November 2021, and carried on Thursday with 417 votes in favour with just seven opposed, “condemns the October 25, 2021, coup in Sudan”, and “stands with the people of Sudan in their democratic aspirations”. It also “recognises the Prime Minister and his cabinet as the constitutional leaders of Sudan’s transitional government”.
The vote coincided with the controversial visit of US President Joe Biden to Saudi Arabia for discussions with leaders of the Gulf states, and also follows shortly the confirmation of John Godfrey as first fully ranked US Ambassador to Sudan in 25 years.
The draft resolution calls on the military junta to immediately release all individuals detained in connection with the coup, and “return to constitutional rule under the transitional constitution as the starting point for negotiations with civilians toward full civilian rule”.
It further demands that the junta to “lift the State of Emergency, including complete restoration of all means of communication; remove all roadblocks and checkpoints, and order the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and RSF to stand down and comply with international recognised rules of engagement ensure security forces respect the right to peaceful protest and hold those who used excessive force and committed other abuses accountable in a transparent, credible process; cease all attempts to change the civilian composition of the cabinet, Sovereign Council, and other government bodies; and transfer leadership of the Sovereign Council to a civilian member of the Sovereign Council in keeping with the transitional constitution.”
The draft resolution calls on the US Secretary of State “to immediately identify coup leaders, their accomplices, and enablers for consideration for targeted sanctions; urge junta leaders to return immediately to the rule of law as set forth by the transitional constitution; and monitor, discourage, and deter any effort by external parties to support the coup and the military junta”.
It further urges the Secretary of State “to coordinate with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development and other Federal Government agencies to pause all non-humanitarian bilateral assistance to Sudan until restoration of the transitional constitutional order; the Department of the Treasury to use the voice and vote of the United States in international financial institutions to suspend all actions related to non-humanitarian loans or debt relief to Sudan until restoration of the transitional constitutional order; and the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations to ensure the United Nations Security Council is seized of the matter on an ongoing basis; and work with the Troika to engage members of the international community to join these United States actions”.
Finally, the draft resolution appeals to international partners to join United States efforts to impose targeted sanctions on the junta and other accomplices to the coup, as well as “monitor, discourage, and deter any effort by external parties to support the junta, and urge junta leaders to return to the rule of law as set forth by the transitional constitution.”
It also calls on the international community t0 suspend Sudan’s participation in all regional multilateral organisations “until Sudan is returned to constitutional rule under the transitional constitution”.
After a distinct thaw in US-Sudan relations following the overthrow of the Al Bashir regime and a movement toward democratic transition, relations between Washington and Khartoum have been strained following the subsequent the military coup d’état of October 25 last year.
The USA suspended all aid to Sudan following the coup, staing that “the United States is pausing assistance from the $700 million in emergency assistance appropriations of Economic Support Funds for Sudan. Those funds were intended to support the country’s democratic transition as we evaluate the next step for Sudan programming.”
On May 11, the US Senate passed a draft resolution “to condemn the military coup in Sudan and support the Sudanese people,” and the House of Commons also unanimously passed the non-binding resolution with a quick vote without any objections.
On March 23, the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a draft resolution condemning the military coup in Sudan and calling on the US administration to impose sanctions on those responsible for the coup.
The draft resolution came two days after the US Treasury imposed sanctions on the paramilitary Central Reserve Forces (popularly called Abu Teira) that stand under the command of the police, in accordance with the Global Magnitsky Act* on serious violations of human rights.
The Treasury listed the excessively violent repression of peaceful pro-democracy protests by the security forces as the main reason.
There have been wide calls for targeted US sanctions on the Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan and deputy Chairman Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo for their involvement in serious human rights abuses following the coup.
In March, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions on the Sudan Central Reserve Police (CRP, popularly known as Abu Tira) for serious human rights abuse yesterday. The Treasury listed the excessively violent repression of peaceful pro-democracy protests by the security forces as the main reason.
Last week, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against ‘Sudan companies with links to Hamas’, with one financier, Hisham Younis Yahia Qafisheh, allegedly “operating and managing at least two Sudan-based companies, Agrogate Holding and Al Rowad Real Estate Development, in order to generate revenue for the Palestinian group.”
In November 2020, Sudan and the US signed a bilateral claims settlement to resolve “default judgements and claims based on allegations that Sudan’s prior regime supported acts of terrorism”. According to the agreement, Sudan had to pay $335 million, on top of approximately $72 million already paid, for distribution to victims of terrorism.
Sudan’s removal from the SST list, decreed in the dying days of the Donald Trump administration, was conditional on a bilateral claims settlement signed in November 2020 to resolve “default judgements and claims based on allegations that Sudan’s prior regime supported acts of terrorism”. Sudan had to pay $335 million, on top of approximately $72 million already paid, for distribution to victims of terrorism.
In exchange, after payment of compensation to the families of the victims of the bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, and the 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Dar El Salaam in Tanzania and Nairobi in Kenya, the default judgments and claims against Sudan in US courts would be dismissed, and Sudan’s sovereign immunities under US law would be restored to those enjoyed by countries that have never been designated by the US as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST).
*The Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 authorises the US government to sanction foreign government officials worldwide who are deemed to be human rights offenders. Sanctions can include freezing their assets and banning them from entering the USA.