Sudan’s Bashir names new cabinet, keeps most ministries


Sudan unveiled a new cabinet to include more opposition parties but kept major portfolios under the control of President Omar al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

Bashir has been trying to form a broadly-based new cabinet to strengthen his power base since South Sudan became independent in July as part of a 2005 peace deal ending decades of civil war.

Analysts had been expecting fresh faces as the ruling NCP is under pressure to overcome an economic crisis which worsened when the South took away about three-quarters of the country’s oil production, the main source of state revenues, Reuterts reports.

But in the new cabinet the same NCP ministers will maintain top portfolios including finance, oil, foreign affairs, defence and the interior, presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie told reporters.

Foreign minister Ali Karti, defence minister Abdulrahim Mohamed Hussein and Finance Minister Ali Mahmoud will stay in office, among other key officials.

Fourteen other parties were given posts, with the only major newcomer being the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The current industry minister, Awad al-Jaz, will become oil minister, a position he held in the 1990s.

The DUP will get three ministers including the cabinet affairs portfolio, Nafie said after a meeting of the NCP leadership attended by Bashir.

The Liberation and Justice Movement, a Darfur rebel group which signed a peace deal with Khartoum, will also join the cabinet, as will two groups that split off from the northern wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the ruling party in South Sudan.

The main opposition umbrella, the National Consensus Forces, has ruled out any cooperation with Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 coup, and has vowed to bring down his government.

They hope to capitalise on rising dissent over high food inflation that has provoked small protests in the capital Khartoum and the country’s underdeveloped east.

Sudan has avoided an “Arab Spring” revolt like in Egypt but anger is rising over a crisis exacerbated by fighting with rebels in southern border states and Darfur, draining resources when the state needs to cut expenditure. Inflation hit 19.8 percent in October.

Government officials say the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia will not be repeated in Sudan and the country will be able to overcome the loss of oil revenues by expanding gold exports and developing the agricultural sector.