Coup puts into question Sudan’s debt cancellation, France says

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Protesters gesture and shout slogans as they demonstrate against the Sudanese military's recent seizure of power and ousting of the civilian government, in the capital Khartoum, Sudan October 30, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin//File Photo

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PARIS, Nov 5 (Reuters) - The coup in Sudan puts into doubt the process that would have seen France cancel some $5 billion debt it was owed by the African country, France's foreign ministry said on Friday, the latest power to pressure military leaders who seized power.

France, Sudan's second-largest creditor, has been a main actor in backing the interim authorities after former President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in 2019, but the civilian transition was derailed in October when the military took control.

Speaking to reporters in a daily briefing on Friday, Foreign ministry spokeswoman Anne-Claire Legendre said Paris had been an "unwavering" partner for Sudan and that the general debt cancellation programme as part of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative was agreed at a conference in Paris in May.

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"A Paris Club agreement was reached on July 15, each creditor now having to sign a bilateral agreement with Sudan," Legendre told reporters, responding to a question on whether Paris was reviewing its debt cancellation promise.

"It is clear that the military coup of October 25 calls into question this process."

At that conference President Emmanuel Macron had vowed to cancel about $5 billion France is owed by Khartoum, provided a loan to clear Sudan's arrears to the International Monetary Fund and organised a side event promoting investment into the country.

In a sign the junta is tightening its control, the military dissolved the boards of all state companies and national agricultural projects, state TV said on Friday. read more

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Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Alistair Bell and Grant McCool

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