By Own Correspondent – KHARTOUM – Sudanese government has rejected US President Barack Obama’s decision to extend economic sanctions on Khartoum ahead of the country’s January referendum on southern independence, saying it was not justified.
“The US president’s decision to extend economic sanctions is not new to us. We were not surprised by the decision, we reject it,” Moawiya Osman Khalid, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, told reporters.
“We see no reason for the decision of the American administration which continues with its failed policy towards Sudan,” he said, adding that the United States had “lost the chance to play a constructive role” in Africa’s largest country.
The White House said on Monday that Obama was extending economic sanctions on Sudan for at least one year.
In a letter sent to members of Congress, Obama informed US lawmakers that the sanctions on Khartoum, which were due to expire on Wednesday, would be extended because circumstances which led to their imposition some 13 years ago have “not been resolved”.
The United States has banned virtually all trade with Sudan since 1997 but On October 20, the US administration eased some sanctions against Khartoum by authorising, on a case by case basis, the commercial exportation of agricultural equipment.
The purpose is to “benefit the Sudanese people by enhancing local food production and strengthening the agricultural sector in a chronically food insecure country,” the US department of treasury said at the time.
Agriculture is a pillar of the Sudanese economy, along with oil.
Sudan produces around 500,000 barrels of oil per day, of which three quarters comes from the south, a potential problem for the north should the south secede.
Khartoum is banking on an improvement in the agricultural sector in the hope of maintaining revenue flows after the referendum.
The referendum is a key provision of the 2005 peace deal that put an end to Africa’s longest-running civil war between north and south.