By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. will exchange ambassadors with Sudan for the first time in 23 years, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday.
"This decision is a meaningful step forward in strengthening the U.S.-Sudan bilateral relationship, particularly as the civilian-led transitional government works to implement the vast reforms under the political agreement and constitutional declaration of August 17, 2019" when Sudan's military and civilian leadership agreed to a power-sharing scheme, Pompeo said in a statement.
The new U.S. envoy to Sudan, who has yet to be named, will require Senate confirmation, and Pompeo said the administration looks forward to working with lawmakers on the process.
The diplomatic milestone follows the ouster of former longtime Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir who was removed from power by Sudan's military in April following months of popular protest against his rule.
Al-Bashir had led Sudan for three decades before he was ousted. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, was appointed to lead a transitional government that replaced the military junta as part of the Aug. 17 accord.
David Hale, the State Department's top official for political affairs met earlier Wednesday with Hamdok, congratulating him "on leading Sudan’s civilian-led government," and expressing stalwart support "for Sudan’s democratic transition."
"The Under Secretary highlighted the goal of completing the formation of the transitional government by forming the Transitional Legislative Council," the department said in a statement.
In announcing the diplomatic upgrade with Sudan, Pompeo hailed Hamdok's efforts to usher in a civilian-led government, saying he "has demonstrated a commitment to peace negotiations with armed opposition groups, established a commission of inquiry to investigate violence against protestors, and committed to holding democratic elections at the end of the 39-month transition period."
"The United States remains a steadfast partner of the Sudanese people and their pursuit of peace, security, prosperity, democracy, and equality," he said.