For over two decades, Sudan’s investors were limited to explore the possibility of other markets due to a trade embargo by the US. But Sudan’s new Ambassador to Rwanda, Abdalla Hassan Eisa Bushara says that after lifting the restrictions that were “blocking the Sudanese economy”, will lead to more cooperation and economic interaction of Sudan with its African and international partners.
In an interview with Sunday Times’ Athan Tashobya, Amb. Bushara spoke at length about Rwanda-Sudan relations, the Darfur crisis and how his country is backing Kagame’s AU reforms.
Below are the excerpts:
It’s been four years since your government decided that it was time to open an embassy in Kigali. How would you describe diplomatic ties between Rwanda and Sudan now?
The Sudanese-Rwandan relations have developed and the diplomatic missions of the two countries have played a pivotal role in promoting and advancing the brotherly relations between the two countries. The great interest and encouragement of the highest leadership of the two countries and their guidance contributed to the development of relations in all fields.
Since the inauguration of the Embassy of the Republic of Sudan in Kigali in 2013, senior officials from the two countries have been in contact and exchanged visits at the highest levels. A number of memorandums of understanding (MoU) and agreements have been signed to enhance bilateral relations.
The two sides will activate the memorandums of understanding and what has been agreed upon in all fields. We will create opportunities to increase the exchange of experience and cooperation and create strong relations between the two brotherly countries.
Last year, on December 20th, President Paul Kagame visited Sudan, How significant was this visit to your country?
Rwanda is one of the African countries that have stood firmly with Sudan in its issues in regional and international forums, especially with regard to its position against the ICC.
Under the leadership of President Kagame, Rwanda succeeded in overcoming the tragedy of the genocide against the Tutsi that took place in the 1994 and in a short period of time it has achieved a great deal of stability and development, making it one of the fast developing countries in the world.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to President Kagame as he presides over the African Union at its current session. I am quite confident that President Kagame will carry out the African Union’s reforms in a very efficient manner. Sudan supports Kagame in all his endeavors in the reforms of the AU.
Sudan is one of the first countries to implement the 0.2% levy in support of AU independence.
For all of this, Sudan is considering the visit of President Kagame and his accompanying delegation visit with great importance and expectations and hopes for further cooperation and promotion of relations for the benefit of both countries and brotherly peoples.
Also the visit comes after the lifting of unfair economic sanctions on Sudan, which means lifting the restrictions that were blocking the Sudanese economy, which means more cooperation and economic interaction of Sudan with its African and international partners.
A lot has been said about Sudanese investors having interest in the Rwandan market and vice versa. What has been done in terms of economic partnerships?
During the past few years, thanks to the interest of the leaderships of the two countries, the Sudanese-Rwandan relations have witnessed progress, cooperation and coordination in important areas, especially in the formal aspects. There is also an important role played by the private sector in developing trade and economic relations between the two countries.
There are, for example, Sudanese investors working in the Rwandan market in the fields of import and distribution of petroleum products, animal production and pharmaceutical companies. And we expect to see more Sudanese investors in the coming days to explore investment opportunities in the Rwandan market.
I would like to pay tribute to the flexible and encouraging laws and policies to attract direct foreign investment in Rwanda and we look forward to stimulating investment and trade between the two countries. In our future plans, we plan to set up a joint Sudanese-Rwandan business council.
What lessons do you think Rwanda can draw from Sudan especially on the growth of the private sector as the driver of economy?
It is well known that in the late twentieth century, the world witnessed political, economic and social developments that changed the old concept that the state is solely responsible for the provision of all services and development and the provision of employment. Many countries adopted privatization policies .Thus; the private sector plays a vital role in achieving the objectives of economic development in the country.
Within the framework of the excellent relations between Rwanda and Sudan, there is a strong effort to build strong relations between the private sector in Rwanda and Sudan. The Sudanese private sector is being encouraged to explore investment opportunities in Rwanda and exchange experiences with the private sector in Rwanda in all fields. I think the Sudanese private sector can invest in health and tourism, for example.
Do you think Sudan is still interested to join the EAC?
I believe that Sudan has a large market, economic resources, and expertise that can be a real addition to the East African Community. Sudan can share experiences and benefits with the EAC. After accepting the membership of South Sudan, the Republic of Sudan also requires to join the EAC with the geographical proximity and the direct common border with the East African Community.
President Bashir and Sudan has put much focus on Africa and African Union recently, mainly supporting regional projects such as CISSA and Africa’s withdrawal from ICC. Why at this point?
Sudan’s position is fully consistent with the position of the African Union with regard to the ICC. African countries have the full right to defend their freedom and sovereignty and not to face this biased performance of the ICC.
The court is politicized and in fact is a tool of new hegemony and colonialism. African countries have the right to apply what they deem appropriate in resolving their disputes by African countries that have their own heritage and civilization away from dictates and guardianship.
On the other hand, the Republic of the Sudan provides all possible support for the efforts of the African continent to achieve its security and stability and the safety of its youth from exploitation and involvement in terrorism and terrorist movements.
What is your opinion on the conflict prevailing in South Sudan since 2013?
The State of South Sudan is a neighboring country with which we have more than 1973 kilometers of common border. We were one nation in one country. Now we are one nation two countries.
As you know, South Sudan was part of the Greater Sudan. Sudan is an active member in all the platforms that seek to resolve the conflict in South Sudan. In principle, we consider that what is happening in the State of South Sudan is an internal issue.
We hope that the parties of the same nation should call for dialogue, not weapons, to resolve their differences and avoid their country and their citizens the expensive war bill. We hope to see South Sudan settled and overcome this difficult time very soon.
Speaking of shared interest, do you think there is a common understanding in usage of the resources of the River Nile after the signing of Tripartite agreement between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia in 2018?
I think there is no problem in understanding the need to common benefiting from the resources of the Nile basin. Sudan’s stand of the Renaissance dam is clear and plays a conciliatory role between Egypt and Ethiopia and here it should be noted that senior experts confirmed that the issue of the dam is a political issue and not technical. There is disagreement over the long term to fill the dam lake and this can be solved through dialogue and negotiation.
What is the current situation now in Darfur?
We can say that the security situation in the Darfur region is very good and there are many positive signs of recovery, and peace throughout Darfur. Peace building processes are moving forward steadily.
Moreover, the government is now working on collecting weapons from citizens and repatriating refugees and displaced people to their villages and areas and start implementing many projects to remove the effects of war and help citizens recover their normal life and to fold the page of war and fighting.