Obama lifts Sudan sanctions to allow computers for vote

US President has lifted a ban on US aid and government assistance for Sudan.

Washington: US President Barack Obama has lifted a ban on US aid and government assistance for Sudan to allow computers to be exported into the country ahead of a key referendum.

In a presidential memorandum, Obama said he was waiving a section of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export act banning US assistance and financing for commercial exports to Sudan, saying it was in the "national security interest”.

The waiver would "allow export assistance to be made available for the export of computers and related equipment that enables the United Nations to facilitate the referendum in Southern Sudan," the memorandum said.

A referendum on self-determination is to be held on January 9 in South Sudan and oil-rich Abyei, despite concern that it would lead the country to break apart.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered Sudan "dramatically" better relations with Washington if Khartoum sticks to its side of the 2005 peace accord with the south and holds the referendum on time.

The 2005 accord ended a civil war in which two million people died. But tensions between the north and south have risen again as troubled preparations for the vote move slowly ahead.

Voter registration started on schedule on Monday and the north and south have agreed to make a new push to agree on borders, the sharing of oil revenues and other deadlocked issues.


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