Kuwait to host first east Sudan donors’ conference

Projects worth $4.2 bln aim to develop the region

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Kuwait is to host a two-day donors and investors conference next month for the under-developed east of Sudan, scene of a decade-long rebellion by ethnic minority groups that ended with a 2006 peace deal, officials said on Monday.

The conference is being organized by the state-run Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) in cooperation with a large number of regional and international institutions, KFAED director general Abdulwahab al-Bader said.

Representatives of more than 50 countries as well as organizations including the United Nations Development Program, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank are to take part in the December 1-2 meeting.

The head of the organizing committee, Mustafa Ismail, who is an advisor to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, said projects worth $4.2 billion would be discussed at the conference.

The projects will focus on infrastructure, energy, water and agriculture in poor but strategically important east Sudan, Ismail said in a statement released by the organisers.

East Sudan, an area as large as Italy and divided into the three states of Kassala, al-Qadarif and Red Sea, has a long history of rebellion against the central government in Khartoum.

The Beja Congress, named after the region's largest ethnic minority, and the Free Lions of the Rashidiya Arab tribe took up arms against Khartoum in 1994, protesting of an unfair distribution of wealth between Sudan's regions.

The 2006 peace deal between Khartoum and their Eastern Front coalition promised government jobs and $600 million for development over five years.

An East Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund was established but little has been achieved, prompting increasing bitterness among the region's four million inhabitants.