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UPDATED: ‘Let's think big', Sudan's PM Hamdok says on future of ties with Egypt
Published in Ahram Online on 11 - 03 - 2021

Sudan's Premier Abdalla Hamdok said on Thursday that Egypt and his country should cooperate economically, developmentally, politically and socially, to develop a "strategic partnership"
"Let's think big in terms of our relationship and establish big projects. If we worked together, this can be a push forward for the turbulent Middle East region," Hamdok said during his visit to the Al-Ahram Establishment.
In an event organised by Al-Ahram's Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS), Hamdok addressed Chairman Abdel-Mohsen Salama, ACPSS Director Mohamed Fayez, the editors-in-chief of Al-Ahram's publications and policy experts.
His visit to Egypt's oldest media institution followed his meeting with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi earlier on Thursday in which both discussed the latest developments in Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the means of boosting bilateral cooperation.
Hamdok said he is pleased by the way in which he was welcomed by the leading cadres in Al-Ahram and was pleased to speak with the Egyptian intelligentsia. He was accompanied by several aides and cabinet ministers, which were announced in February, making it the second transitional government to be formed.
Sudan's Transitional Politics
"Let me tell you about what is happening in Sudan," Hamdok said, referring to the transitional arrangements that have been made following a revolution that led to the ouster of longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir in April 2019.
Hamdok said that all sects of the Sudanese society participated in the revolution two years ago, despite admitting that the "transition has many complexities", especially if compared to those that followed the revolutions of October 1964 and April 1985.
He pointed that Sudan is moving from "war to peace, authoritarianism to democracy, tribal and ethnic polarisation to unity and hopefully from a collapsed to welfare economy."
The priorities of the new government, according to Hamdok, include solving the $60-billion external debt problem, having peace in Sudan that Egypt can play a role in achieving, reforming security institutions and preparing for post-transition free and fair elections. "We will leave the choice of electing new leaders to the people of Sudan," Hamdok emphasised.
Addressing these days will help Sudan achieve its developmental goals, Hamdok said.
He also noted that Sudan wants "strategic relations" with South Sudan as Khartoum now "understands the conditions" that led to its independence. Hamdok also highlighted Sudan's willingness to develop between foreign relations
Answering a question on why Sudan has had a long, 39-month transitional period, Hamdok said it has been needed to deal with a legacy of "thirty years of damage and corruption".
"But definitely this has its own risks. This is the first transition in the history of Sudan in which peace and war issues are addressed, a huge achievement that has strengthened the transitional process," he said.
Talking Business
Hamdok said that Egypt has a long history of investing in developmental projects and support to liberation movements in Africa, especially during the 1960s.
Hamdok suggested that Egypt's developmental institutions, which he compared to those found in "first world countries", can also now play a role in the development of the continent's states.
He noted that Egypt and Sudan are currently "putting the basis of different relationships amid a new environment." He wants the two countries to turn ideas and plans into projects.
"No need to start on a large scale. Egypt can start with its neighbours in Africa, a model that can later on expand to the rest of the continent. This is what Africa wants."
Hamdok welcomed the idea of establishing a joint Egyptian-Sudanese council to discuss all issues linking both states together "within an institutionalised framework".
These issues, for Hamdok, include the "stereotypes" about Sudan and its people in Egypt, and vice versa, believing they include some negative conceptions that should be changed.
Hamdok also referred to the Halayeb and Shalateen crisis, believing it should be addressed in the "right manner". Hamdok stressed that no one speaks about these topics.
"We [Egypt and Sudan] have so much more in common. We are historically, culturally and geographically connected to each other. Most importantly, we share the same fate," Sudan's head of government stressed.
Hamdok said he spoke with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Thursday about Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD), stating that both of them share a "complete consensus" about the situation. "Both Egypt and Sudan are downstream states, and our suggestion to develop a quartet aims at protecting our water rights," he explained.
He stated that GERD problems now have a "political, not technical" nature. "Now, we have a joint team that is responsible for Egyptian-Sudanese cooperation and dealing with all aspects of the GERD crisis," said Hamdok.
El-Sisi and Hamdok agreed to intensify talks with regional and international parties to support the Sudanese proposal of forming a quartet committee, including the United States, the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN).

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