France promises to lend Sudan $1.5bn to pay off its debts


The French government has said it will lend Sudan $1.5 billion to help the heavily indebted country pay off its arrears to the International Monetary Fund.

Sudan is rising from decades of economic sanctions and isolation under former president Omar-al-Bashir, who was ousted by the military in 2019 after an uprising.

The move could allow Sudan to re-enter the international financial circuits and attract investors. It may also pave the way for much of Sudan’s $50bn external debt to be forgiven under the IMF and World Bank’s Highly Indebted Poor Countries scheme.

The French economy minister Bruno Le Maire announced on Monday that France would grant a $1.5 billion bridge loan but IMF members must pledge to cover the $1.3 billion in arrears in order for the IMF to pay the bridge loan back.

French President Emmanuel Macron is later expected to confirm the financial commitment at a Paris summit on Monday.

Macron made a promise to Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during his visit to France in September 2019, six months after the revolution that ousted Bashir from power and ended his 30-year rule.

This country, rich in oil and mining resources, is drowning in debt and inflation at 300 percent. The coronavirus pandemic has hit Sudan’s economy hard.

Hamdok took office at the head of a transitional government shortly after the 2019 ouster of President Omar al-Bashir whose three-decade iron-fisted rule was marked by economic hardship, deep internal conflicts, and biting international sanctions.

In the past two years, Hamdok and his government have pushed to rebuild the crippled economy and end Sudan’s international isolation.