Sudan devalues currency to meet key condition for debt relief

Sudan's central bank sharply devalued the currency on Sunday, announcing a new regime to "unify" official and black-market exchange rates in an effort to overcome a crippling economic crisis and access debt relief.

The change is a key reform demanded by foreign donors and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but was delayed for months as shortages of basic goods and rapid inflation complicated a fragile political transition.

Sunday's move had been expected late last year under an IMF staff monitoring programme that could lead to relief on Sudan's estimated $60 billion in foreign debt, but was held up by political uncertainty.

As well as paving the way for debt relief, the devaluation would help stabilise the currency, reduce smuggling and speculation, and attract remittances from Sudanese working overseas, the central bank said in a statement.

It comes two weeks after Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok appointed a new government to include rebel groups that signed a peace deal in October.

(Additional reporting by Nafisa Eltahir and Patrick Werr; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by William Mallard, Mark Heinrich and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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