Sudan elected chair of East Africa trade bloc

Sudan elected chair of East Africa trade bloc for the first time in history
2 min read
30 November, 2019
The top post goes to Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who has led efforts towards Sudan's international rehabilitation.
IGAD was previously chaired by Nobel-winning Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed [AFP]
Sudan was on Friday elected as the chair of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for the first time in its history.

Khartoum, widely seen as a pariah state in the international community, had previously been shunned for the leadership of the East Africa trade bloc.

The move came as rights organisations praised Sudan's transitional government for progress made towards democratisation on Friday with the abolition of a controversial public order law which had curtailed women's rights under ousted President Omar al-Bashir's rule.

IGAD had been chaired by Ethiopia for almost a decade before Sudan was elected chair on Friday in Addis Ababa. 

The annual Assembly of Heads of State and Government also endorsed South Sudan's role as a mediator in peace talks between Khartoum and Sudanese rebel groups, set to resume next month.

The Sudanese delegation to the Ethiopian capital was headed by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who has led efforts towards Sudan's international rehabilitation since taking up the role in September. 

The meeting was also attended by leaders from IGAD's seven other member states, including Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Kenyan Foreign Minister Monica Juma.

The US' top Africa diplomat Tibor Nagy congratulated Hamdok on Friday, saying in a tweet that "the U.S. looks forward to continuing our work with [the IGAD secretariat] 
and #Sudan on regional issues, especially the peace process in #SouthSudan".

Meanwhile on Friday, Sudan's transitional sovereign council dissolved Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) in response to demands from protesters.

The sovereign council also moved to annul Sudan's archaic public order law which, based on a harsh interpretation of Sharia law, legitimised the flogging and incarceration of thousands of women.

Alcohol was also banned and security forces used the law to arrest women for attending private parties or wearing trousers.

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