Sudan clears hurdle for debt relief

Sudan has cleared a final hurdle in order to access relief on external debt of at least $50 billion, according to French President Emmanuel Macron.

That's after member countries of the International Monetary Fund agreed to clear Sudan's arrears to the institution.

The economically struggling nation is emerging from decades of sanctions and isolation under ousted former President Omar al-Bashir.

It had built up huge arrears on its debt.

A transitional military-civilian government has been trying to pull the country out of a deep economic crisis.

Inflation is at over 300% and there is a shortage of basic goods, fueled by a lack of foreign currency reserves.

But rapid progress has been made under the IMF and World Bank's Highly Indebted Poor Countries scheme, or HIPC.

The HIPC would reopen access to badly needed cheap international finance.

In order to unlock the process, Sudan recently cleared its arrears to the World Bank and African Development Bank with bridge loans from Western nations.

The remaining step was to clear Sudan's arrears to the IMF.

At a conference in Paris, Macron said that would be facilitated through a $1.5 billion bridge loan, which would be covered by member state pledges.

"Today's step is a decisive step. It marks the real engagement of the whole international community alongside your country because you had the courage to stand up, to conquer freedom and to start these first reforms."

Macron also kickstarted a broader debt relief effort, saying his country was in favor of fully canceling the $5 billion it is owed by Sudan.

Others such as Italy and Germany have agreed to clearing their shares of Sudan's debt.

Kuwait, the country's biggest creditor at $9.8 billion, said it would support debt "resolution" discussions.

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