Saudi Arabia deposits US$250 mln in Sudan’s central bank

A Saudi money changer displays Saudi Riyal banknotes at a currency exchange shop in Riyadh. (Reuters pic)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it deposited US$250 million in Sudan’s central bank as part of a support package for the country following the overthrow of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir.

“The ministry of finance has deposited 937.5 million Saudi riyals into the central bank of Sudan,” it said in a statement.

In April, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced US$3 billion in financial aid for Sudan.

“US$500 million has been provided by both countries … to strengthen its financial position,” the kingdom’s finance ministry said.

The UAE said on April 28 it was depositing US$250 million in Sudan’s central bank.

The oil-rich Gulf states pledged to inject US$500 million into Sudan’s central bank and US$2.5 billion to help provide food, medicine and petroleum products, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said last month.

It said the move was aimed shoring up the Sudanese pound.

In recent years Sudan has been hit by an acute lack of dollars, a key factor behind the nationwide protests that first erupted in December and led to the toppling of Bashir by the army last month.

Sudan plays a key role in the regional interests of Saudi Arabia and its allies, siding with Riyadh against Shiite Iran and providing troops in the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen’s war.

Both Gulf nations have voiced backing for Sudan’s military rulers, who are facing calls from protesters to cede power to a civilian transitional government.

The Sudanese currency had plunged even after the United States lifted its 20-year-old trade embargo on the country in October 2017.

Expectations that the end of US sanctions would bring an economic recovery failed to materialise, putting pressure on the pound.

The country’s economic crisis has deepened since the secession of South Sudan in 2011 that took away the bulk of oil earnings.