UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Sudan told the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday that its debts must be canceled and its economy supported as it struggles to recover from losing three-quarters of its critical oil revenue to South Sudan when it seceded a year ago.
The International Monetary Fund this week urged Sudan to meet donors to discuss debt relief and some IMF board members called for “exceptional efforts” from the IMF and the global community to help Sudan reduce its debt of about $40 billion.
“Sudan requires assistance to go through this very sensitive stage towards better horizons. For that we believe that debts must be canceled and its economy supported,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti said.
South Sudan seceded in July 2011. Leaders from both states finally reached a border security deal on Wednesday to restart badly needed oil exports, but failed to solve the other key conflicts left over from when they split.
The pair failed to settle the fate of at least five disputed oil-producing regions along the border. Tensions over the unmarked 1,200-mile (1930-km) common border spilled over into fighting in April, when South Sudan’s army briefly occupied the Heglig oilfield, vital to Sudan’s economy.
They were also unable to reach a solution for the border region of Abyei, which has symbolic significance to both and is rich in grazing lands. Plans for a referendum have failed over the question of who should participate.
“We have been determined to tackle the reasons for war and strife despite the strong economic and political pressures being brought to bear against my country and unfair sanctions imposed by the United States,” Karti said.
Washington still maintains its 1997 embargo on the country over Sudan’s role in hosting prominent Islamist militants. The sanctions restrict U.S. trade and investment with Sudan and block the assets of the Sudanese government.
The United States and other powers criticize Sudan for human rights violations and a harsh crackdown on rebels. Western powers also shun Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir who was indicted by the International Criminal Court over war crimes in Darfur, the site of a nearly decade-old insurgency. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Sandra Maler)