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Sudan to privatize army firms, says Gulf aid talks ongoing

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Sudan is pressing ahead with plans to privatize companies owned by the military and is in talks with Middle East nations to help finance its cash-strapped economy, according to Finance Minister Gibril Ibrahim.

The government is still on track to shut many of the country’s 650 state-owned companies and privatize others, despite a military coup in October that derailed its democratic transition, he said in an interview.

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That would keep to a series of proposed reforms suggested after a popular uprising ousted former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

“All commercial companies will be put up for public subscription, except for companies that produce weapons, and that will be soon,” Ibrahim said on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the Islamic Development Bank in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

The minister’s comments come as the North African nation’s military leaders prepare to hold direct talks with civilian politicians and activists next week for the first time since the putsch.

A settlement may prove difficult, though, with protests ongoing, many political prisoners still behind bars and confidence in the military at an all-time low.

The government is seeking funding after decisions by the US, European Union and World Bank to suspend billions of dollars in assistance because of the takeover left its finances bare.

“There are talks with Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar,” he said. “We hope that these talks yield results. It is difficult to talk about specific amounts.”

The three countries recently together pledged more than $20 billion in investments and deposits to support Egypt as it wrestles with the economic fallout of the war in Ukraine.

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