July 11, 2018
The Humpty Dumpty Institute hosted two Congressional Delegations to the Republic of Sudan this spring in conjunction with the American Global Institute, a 501c3 NGO based in Virginia and Bahrain. This program followed the ongoing series of international Congressional delegations with the aim to enhance and foster greater understanding on the part of the U.S. Congress of various countries around the world through direct dialogue and an exchange of ideas with government officials and other thought leaders.
The first delegation, from April 12 - 16, 2018, was composed of Congresswoman Karen Bass of California, and Dr. Janette Yarwood, Staff Director, House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. The second delegation, from April 27 to May 2, 2018 was composed of Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan. Rep. Gutierrez was accompanied by his wife Soraida, and Rep. Kildee was accompanied by his daughter Katy.
Both delegations met with Members of the Sudanese National Assembly and were hosted at the National Parliament by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Ibrahim Ahmed Omer. These meetings focused on improving US – Sudan legislative links and issues around the removing Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Speaker Omer also led a guided tour of the Parliament building and Rep. Kildee was able to address a session of the National Assembly. In addition to the legislative visits, the delegations were able to visit the First Vice President of Sudan, Bakri Hassan Salih, as well as representatives of the Foreign Ministry. The National Dialogue, an organization formed to institute constitutional reforms, was also an important appointment for both delegations, leading to valuable insight on the legal frameworks on which the government operates. The second delegation also met with the National Intelligence and Security Services of Sudan for a briefing on their work. Speaker Omer hosted both delegations at his residence for an informal dinner at the end of the trip to thank the congresspersons for visiting Sudan.
US Embassy Khartoum also hosted several briefings for the congresspersons at both the Embassy and residence of Steven Koutsis, the Chargé d'Affaires. These included consultations on sensitive issues and meetings with several opposition groups. The second delegation was also able to take advantage of visits by the Department of the Treasury and the Commission on International Religious Freedom which took place during the visit to get a fresh perspective on issues represented by these groups. It should be noted that the visits were greatly aided by the tremendous support and security provided by the Embassy.
Both delegations met with civil society groups working on numerous issues such as women's rights, small enterprise innovation, higher education and others. The second delegation was cheerfully received at the Ahfad University for Women, a pioneer higher education institution in Sudan fostering women's education, development and empowerment. Representatives of the university even visited Rep. Kildee's district after the visit to develop collaboration with the University of Michigan – Flint. The delegation also met with the Center for Development and Public Policy, a think tank providing public policy and development advice, capacity building, research and technical assistance to civil society in Sudan. Another crucial meeting was with the United Nations Country Team Sudan. The delegation met with several UN entities including, UNDP, UNHCR, UNMAS, the World Bank, FAO, IFAD, UN Women, UNICEF, WHO, WFP and IOM. Along with a short briefing on the work of these organizations, the delegation also spoke with representatives of the UN peacekeeping agencies for Darfur and Abyei.
During the first delegation, Rep. Bass was able to visit the Bash Pharma pharmaceutical plant on the outskirts of Khartoum owned and operated by the trip sponsor, BashGroup and it's founder and President, Bashir Hassan Bashir, and his sons. The plant manufactures mostly veterinary medicines and eyedrops for human consumption and is the only one of it's kind in Sudan.
HDI and AGI have organized several delegations to Sudan since November 2015. The delegations have been immensely useful in having Members of Congress advocate for a lifting of sanctions and removing Sudan from the list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism List." These are important steps for greatly improved relations between the United States and Sudan. Additional Congressional delegations will focus on how banking and financial transactions between the Sudan and the United States could be regularized and on how to promote more educational and cultural exchanges. These activities will greatly improve the climate for Western trade and investment in Sudan.