Politics /

Many observers were astonished when the transitional government in Sudan declared that it would hand over ousted president Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) where he will be tried for committing crimes against humanity in the western Sudanese region of Darfur in 2003. Nevertheless, shocked analysts do not need to look far to discover why the transitional authorities in this poor African country made such a decision.

They only need to look at the figures—especially of the Sudanese economy—in order to know why Bashir will be turned in to the ICC.

Sudan’s Painful Economic Reality

Sudan’s economic conditions are deteriorating very rapidly, translating into suffering for millions of people and an uncertain future for a country that suffered economic mismanagement for decades in the past under Bashir who was ousted in April of last year.

Sudan’s annual inflation rate reached 64.28% in January against the background of a sharp rise in the prices of commodities—especially food and beverages. Meanwhile, the Sudanese pound continues to lose value against all foreign currencies, especially the U.S. dollar. A U.S. dollar now pegs at 51.22 pounds.

Sudan’s debts have amounted to $60 billion and Sudan’s transitional authorities are eager to start negotiations with international crediting organizations—including the International Monetary Fund—to start a painful restructuring of the economy and agree on loan deals.

This year, Sudan expects to borrow up to $10 billion from regional and international organizations to cope up with spending in the 2020 budget. One small sign of hope is that the economy is expected to grow by 3% in 2020, according to Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Badawi.

However, this is less than enough to generate enough jobs for hundreds of thousands of unemployed Sudanese workers. It is also less than enough to help the transitional authorities cope with the needs of the Sudanese people.

Sudanese Authorities are Worried the People Will Revolt if the Economy Doesn’t Improve

There are fears that there will be a public backlash against these deteriorating economic conditions.

Raising the possibility of the presence of this backlash is the acute shortage of goods to meet basic needs across Sudan. There is an acute shortage of petroleum products and Sudanese motorists have to spend hours outside petrol stations before they can fill up their gas tanks. There is also a shortage of bread at the nation’s bakeries and bakers want to increase the price of the bread almost three-fold in order to pay their costs. If this happens, it will create enormous anger.

Sudan’s Decision to Cooperate with the International Community

These developments were most likely why Sudan’s National Security Council convened on February 10. There was no word after the meeting about the topics discussed during it. Nonetheless, Sudan declared a short time later that it would hand Bashir over to the ICC. Three days later, Sudan also said that it would compensate the families of 17 U.S. citizens killed in an attack on a U.S. destroyer off the coast of Yemen in 2000.

The U.S. accuses Sudan of allowing the two men who carried out the attack against the destroyer to train in Sudan in camps which Bashir allowed al-Qaeda and its late leader Osama bin Laden to set up in Sudan.

Sudan’s Hope for a Better Future

The compensation Khartoum will pay to the families of the victims of the 2000 attack may convince the U.S. to remove Sudan from its terror list.

Together with the handover of Bashir to the ICC, these moves will help Sudan to return to the international community, a measure urgently needed to help the nation overcome its current economic and diplomatic isolation and start applying for loans and attracting foreign investments.

Whether Sudan will compound these two moves with others in the future to further convince the international community that its future actions will be different from its past ones remains to be seen in the coming days.