World Bank President David Malpass, in Sudan on Thursday for the first visit in nearly 40 years by a head of the development agency, hailed the country’s reforms but warned of “political slippages”.
A transitional government and a Civil-Military Sovereign Council have ruled the African nation since 2019 after the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Under Bashir, Sudan suffered decades of corruption and severe American sanctions.
The United States removed Sudan from its terrorist blacklist in December 2020, removing a major obstacle to much-needed aid and financial investment.
“Two years ago, the Sudanese transitional government inherited a deeply damaged economy and society that had suffered from decades of conflict and isolation,” Malpass said during a speech in Khartoum.
“Even though the people have decided to break with the past, Sudan has faced extraordinary headwinds,” including the Covid-19 pandemic and unprecedented flooding, he said.
“Yet the country has continued with its bold reforms,” allowing debt relief of more than $ 50 billion, what Malpass called the biggest initiative for the heavily indebted poor countries of all time.
“Although there is a lot of work to come, I congratulate the Sudanese authorities, civil and military, for their efforts and achievements in working together towards a unified country, tolerant and capable of providing a better future for all of its citizens. “said Malpass, an American who noted” this historic moment. “
A little over a week after the Sudanese government declared that it had foiled an attempted coup, he added: “It is essential to avoid political slippages because there is no development. without peace and stability.
– ‘Pivotal moment’ –
Analysts said the putsch highlighted threats to Sudan’s transition to full civilian rule.
This transition has remained fragile, shaken by deep fragmentation between political factions, economic difficulties and the declining role of civilian leaders in one of the world’s least developed countries.
In June, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets to demand the resignation of the government over reforms to the International Monetary Fund leading to debt relief.
As part of these measures, Sudan removed subsidies on diesel and gasoline and carried out a managed float of the Sudanese pound to stem a rampant black market.
Malpass recognized “the remarkable resilience of the Sudanese people – your will to build a better Sudan despite the challenges is truly inspiring”.
The country’s civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdock, whose government is committed to reviving the economy, welcomed the head of the World Bank.
“This is indeed a historic moment … your visit comes at another pivotal moment in the history of Sudan,” Hamdok told a meeting of World Bank officials, government ministers and other dignitaries. .
While focusing on Sudan, Malpass looked more broadly at ways to spur inclusive and sustainable global growth when the Covid-19 pandemic “again caused poverty rates to rise after decades of steady decline.”
“This has pushed nearly 100 million people into extreme poverty, and several hundred million more have become poor, many in middle-income countries,” he said, according to a Bank statement. global.
Malpass said determined action in four areas should make the difference: achieving economic stability; capitalize on the digital revolution; make development greener and more sustainable; and invest in people.
“This unprecedented crisis has sparked a period of upheaval. The many choices in the years to come will determine whether developing countries suffer from a lost decade or can usher in rapid economic growth and transformation,” said Malpass.