Macron hosts summit to help Sudan post-Bashir

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Paris

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday hosts African leaders, diplomats and lenders at a summit aimed at helping Sudan after years of conflict-riven authoritarian rule.

Several heads of state will gather in Paris to discuss investment in Sudan and negotiate its debt to help the government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in the transition after the 2019 ouster of longtime strongman Omar al-Bashir.

The next day, a summit on African economies will try to fill a financing shortfall of almost $300 billion caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both meetings, held in a temporary exhibition centre near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, will be a chance for Macron to show himself as a statesman on Africa whose influence goes beyond the continent’s Francophone regions.

The meetings will both mark a return to in-person top-level gatherings after the Covid-19 pandemic made video conferences the norm.

Among those attending both meetings will be Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a rare visit to France as Paris presses for reconciliation with Kigali after a historic report made clear French failings over the 1994 genocide.

Also expected to attend on both days is Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, making another journey to key ally France after his state visit in late 2020 enraged rights activists.

France wants the Sudan summit to send a signal of the help African countries can receive if they embrace democracy and turn their backs on authoritarianism.

The Sudanese transition is considered by us — but also by the entire international community — as an example of democratic transition in Africa and as such deserves special attention,” said a French presidential official who asked not to be named.

The official said the summit aims to unite the international community around helping Sudan, in particular addressing its vast debt pile.

IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva will be present as well as top European diplomats, including German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.—AFP