US Congress Introduces Sudan Sanctions Bill to Scold Military

The US Congress on Thursday proposed legislation to sanction anyone who undermines “Sudan’s transition to democracy,” alongside a resolution condemning the October military takeover.

The House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs advanced the two bills by voice vote without a single objection from a member.

“Make no mistake, there is a strong interest throughout this Congress – in the House and the Senate – to ensure that the United States plays a productive role in helping Sudan achieve a managed democratic transition. by civilians, ”Foreign Chamber Speaker Gregory Meeks said. during votes.

“As Sudan’s military and civilian leaders struck a deal last month and resumed the democratic transition, let me be clear: those who seek to undermine Sudan’s transition to democracy are violating the rights of the man and exploit this delicate political process will be held accountable ”.

The Sudan Democracy Law, introduced by Republican Young Kim, would freeze the assets of anyone who interferes with Sudan’s democratic transition, threatens its stability, restricts freedom of expression or access to the media, indulges in arbitrary detentions or torture, or embezzles Sudanese public funds.

The bill contains a caveat that would allow President Joe Biden to lift the sanctions if he deems it in the best interests of the United States.

And the resolution condemning the coup, presented by Mr. Meeks, recognizes Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his cabinet “as the constitutional leaders of the transitional government of Sudan” while calling on the army to “immediately release all those responsible. government civilians ”and to lift the state of emergency.

He also calls on the military to “return to constitutional rule under the transitional constitution as a starting point for negotiations with civilians towards full civilian rule.”

After arresting Mr. Hamdok in October, General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan reinstated him last month while continuing to detain other prominent civilian officials and civil society advocates.

A day after signing an agreement with General Al Burhan, Hamdok said the government would focus on rewriting the Sudanese constitution and holding elections on time.

But the Sudanese army continued to crack down on pro-democracy protesters.

While the United States has cautiously welcomed Mr. Hamdok’s reinstatement, Washington has failed to release $ 1 billion in Sudanese aid frozen by the Biden administration after the coup.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on the military to lift the state of emergency and release political prisoners.

Biparty congressional legislation indicates Democrats and Republicans are largely on the same page with the Biden administration, and the sanctions could provide the White House with additional leverage over the Sudanese military.

“The military has detained civilian leaders, shut down the Internet and declared a state of emergency,” Foreign Affairs Committee top Republican Mike McCaul said during the votes.

“The Sudanese people are holding on… They continue to risk their lives to demonstrate peacefully and demand democracy.

Votes in committee pave the way for a full vote in the House.

Democrat Chris Coons introduced similar Senate sanctions legislation and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez also introduced an identical resolution condemning the Senate coup.

Updated: December 9, 2021, 20:55

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