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Saudi Arabia gives Sudan junta cash


Saudi Arabia says it has deposited $250m (£196m) in Sudan’s central bank as part of a support package for the country which is in the midst of an economic and political crisis.

The gift, plus a similar recent deposit from the United Arab Emirates, will help alleviate some of Sudan’s economic pain – but it won’t address the symptoms.

This is merely a very short-term fix to a deep crisis. People are having to get used to long queues outside banks where withdrawals are often limited to a maximum of $40 and spending hours in the sweltering heat lining up for fuel.

Sudan was always going to face economic challenges after 2011 when South Sudan seceded, taking with it most of the oil.

But the problem was exacerbated by the fact that then-President Omar al-Bashir’s economic policy involved spending whatever was necessary to keep himself in power.

A huge chunk of the budget went on security, and the creation of militias to prop him up.

He borrowed from wherever he could, building close ties with China, courting support from Qatar whilst at the same time getting money from Doha’s arch rival, Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Bashir sent thousands of soldiers to fight for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen – in exchange for dollars.

Sudan’s countrywide protests were triggered by sharp rises in the cost of food and fuel in December and Mr. Bashir was finally overthrown last month.

But as negotiations over a transitional government drag on, many Sudanese are growing increasingly furious that despite braving bullets on the streets for months, the country is still being led by the former president’s close military allies who are backed by Saudi Arabia.

The protesters have been insisting on a total change at the top and proper reforms to fix the country.

But the generals are standing in the way of that dream.

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