Sudan Criticizes Trump’s Visitor Ban After Sanctions Lifted

Updated on
  • U.S. officials traveled to Libyan border in past six months
  • Sudan committed to working with U.S. to combat terrorism

Sudan’s criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to bar visitors from the country, two weeks after former President Barack Obama lifted decades-old sanctions on the North African nation.

Trump’s executive order also comes amid increased cooperation between the two countries’ intelligence agencies to combat “transnational terrorism,” Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in an interview in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where he’s attending an African Union summit that began Monday.

Ibrahim Ghandour

Photographer: Ashraf Shazly/AFP via Getty Images

“We feel sorry that the decision was taken at a time we started cooperating and the sanctions were lifted,” Ghandour said. “We’ll wait until the period mentioned, until the executive decision passes and see what is next after that and then we’ll act accordingly.”

Sudan was among seven mainly Muslim Middle East and East African nations whose citizens were barred from entering the U.S. by Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order. The decision followed the announcement by Obama earlier this month to reverse some of the economic sanctions that the U.S. had put in place in 1997, four years after it listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Counter-Terror Talks

The removal of sanctions came after six months of talks with Obama administration officials about counter-terrorism operations, regional efforts to combat the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, violence in Sudan’s western Darfur region and unrest in neighboring South Sudan, Ghandour said. In that period, Sudan also allowed U.S. intelligence and defense officials to travel to its border with Libya, he said.

“We’ve been in cooperation with the U.S. for a long time, and we are ready to continue for the benefit of our country and countries of the region as well as other countries who are affected by terrorism, which is now a transnational phenomenon,” he said.

The U.S. Treasury said the partial lifting of sanctions, to be reviewed in six months, was in response to Sudanese progress in reducing “offensive” military actions, without specifying against whom, and boosting access for humanitarian groups. The U.S. has previously accused Sudan of sheltering armed groups active in the region.

“The Americans know that we’re not harboring any opposition of any other country, including South Sudan,” Ghandour said. “They know that the government has negotiated peace with rebels.”

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war. The two governments subsequently became embroiled in disputes over oil, borders and citizenship rights. 

South Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mawien Makol Ariik said Monday that any of his fellow citizens who still hold Sudanese passports are being advised to obtain one for the world’s newest country “to avoid being mistakenly included in the ban.”

“We believe that most of our people who are now in Khartoum, subject to travels, are holding our passport,” he said by text message, referring to the Sudanese capital.

— With assistance by Okech Francis

(Updates with comment from South Sudanese ministry starting in penultimate paragraph.)
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