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Sudan's PM calls military involvement in private sector 'unacceptable'

FILE PHOTO: Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok addresses the media at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, February 14, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - The involvement of Sudan’s military in the private sector is “unacceptable,” and such enterprises should be turned into public companies, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Monday.

“All the world’s armies are involved in investments ... in military manufacturing,” he said. “But for the military to invest in the productive sector, and to displace the private sector, is unacceptable.”

Sudan’s military, which rules with a civilian coalition over a transitional period following the ouster of Omar al-Bashir in 2019, controls numerous businesses in the agriculture, mining, and energy sectors.

“You cannot manage resources belonging to the Sudanese people without transparency or accountability. There’s no wavering on this,” Hamdok added.

He spoke at a news conference regarding Sudan’s removal from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terror, a move made earlier on Monday which is expected to usher in badly needed financial assistance and foreign investment.

His comments came in response to a question about a law passed by the U.S. Congress requiring financial transparency and civilian control over Sudan’s state-owned enterprises as a condition for U.S. assistance to Sudan, which he said would “surely help the democratic transition.”

Hamdok said his administration’s desire is to turn the military-owned companies into public joint stock companies in which the public can invest. “It’s easier said than done, but we will work on it and see what we can achieve,” he said.

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum; Writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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