Since the mid-1990s, dozens of lower-income economies have benefitted from debt relief under the IMF-World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) programme. But with Bashir in power, Sudan was excluded from this initiative.

Now that he is gone, the new government is appealing to the IMF, World Bank and international creditors to permit Sudan to benefit from HIPC debt relief and thus enable the country to make a fresh financial start.

Thirty years ago, Poland was granted deep relief on its communist-era debts, laying the foundation for subsequent growth. Sudan now has a similar need for debt relief.

A democratic role model in the making

The challenges facing Sudan seem insurmountable to many observers within and outside the country and sceptics believe that grave economic and political turmoil is inevitable. But the Sudanese people remain hopeful. They, and we, believe that the country can become a democratic role model for the region, showing how a popularly backed government can restore stability, launch reforms, and achieve sustainable development.

Sudan’s innovative, ethnically diverse, peaceful, and politically engaged people – and in particular its youth and women – are free from oppression as the result of their own brave efforts. Now, they ardently desire a better future. To quote the Tunisian poet Abu al-Passim al-Shabby, destiny must answer their call.

Ibrahim Elbadawi & Jeffrey D. Sachs

© Project Syndicate 2019

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