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Sudan’s Bumpy Debt Road Will Run Through Where? Vienna?

This is a joint post with Ross Thuotte.

Sudan’s crippling debt burden can be compared to an enormous onion – the story gets more and more complex as you begin peeling back the various layers. Yesterday, we wrote about Sudan’s two largest creditors – Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. But, there are countless other surprises beneath the surface. Here are three more: Austria, Denmark, and Belgium. These are not countries that one would automatically associate with Sudan. But, they are some of its largest creditors – collectively holding roughly $4.5 billion in claims.

RIP, Richard C. Holbrooke

Through the course of our work on a U.S. Development Strategy in Pakistan over the past year, anytime anyone asked us who we were trying to reach, whom we hoped to influence, our answer started with one name: Richard Holbrooke.

The Cancún Climate Agreement: Pragmatism Wins the Day – Now, Some Political Will is Needed

This year’s annual UN climate conference concluded in Cancún, Mexico, in the early hours of Saturday. It has not been a game changer in getting the ambitious action the world must take to limit the risks of climate change. Yet, it has made welcome headway in solidifying and fleshing out some of the ideas negotiated last year in Copenhagen, carved out smart pragmatic progress on transparency and institutions, and revitalized a moribund negotiation process.

Who Are Sudan’s Two Biggest Creditors? And Why Is It Something to Worry About?

This is a joint post with Ross Thuotte.

Two countries alone hold over 25 percent of Sudan’s crippling $35 billion debt burden. I’ll give you three guesses at who they might be. China? United States? France? All would be reasonable choices. But, they also would be wrong. In fact, Sudan’s two largest creditors are Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Sudan owes the Kuwaiti government roughly $6 billion and the Saudi Government over $3 billion. Despite a flurry of recent loans, China is only number five on the list. These rankings represent more than monetary values owed – rather, they illustrate who will have the most important voices around the debt workout table when the time comes.

A New Tool for Squeezing the Regime in Cote d’Ivoire…and Preventing Odious Obligations

This is a joint post with Cindy Prieto.

As the Cote d’Ivoire standoff moves into Day Ten, pressure is mounting on Laurent Gbagbo who lost the election to Alassane Ouattara but refuses to stand down. The African Union and ECOWAS have suspended the country, and the United States and Europe have each threatened Gbagbo with financial sanctions, asset freezes, and travel bans unless he relents.

As cash becomes scarce and the junta more desperate, Gbagbo and his inner circle might try to quickly borrow money or start a fire sale. This would not only provide fuel for potential conflict, but also saddle the Ouattara government with new debts once they get in the seat. One additional way of squeezing Gbagbo and avoiding this outcome is contract sanctions, as proposed in the recent report of CGD’s Prevention of Odious Debt Working Group led by John Williamson, Michael Kremer, and Seema Jayachandran.

Africa Opposed to Chinese-Western Aid Cooperation—Wikileaks

This is a joint post with Lawrence MacDonald.

Browsing through Wikileaks to try to understand what the fuss was all about, Alan came on an interesting cable (10Beijing367) about African views on possible cooperation between China and Western donors on aid to Africa. According the summary of a cable from the U.S. embassy in Beijing, reporting on the views of African diplomats stationed there:

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