Sudan’s new cabinet won’t solve crisis – opposition

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Sudan’s main opposition parties reacted negatively to a new cabinet formed by veteran President Omar al-Bashir that includes more opposition figures, saying it would not help overcome an economic crisis.

Sudan has avoided an Arab uprising such as in Egypt and Tunisia but dissent is building over food price inflation and unemployment which add to hardships faced by average Sudanese.

Khartoum and the underdeveloped east have seen small protests. On Wednesday, Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) unveiled a new cabinet, its first since South Sudan seceded in July under a 2005 peace deal. It included more opposition figures than the previous lineup but kept key portfolios in NCP hands, Reuters reports.

Bashir had been trying to form a broader-based cabinet to strengthen his position and tackle an economic crisis which has worsened since the South left along with about three-quarters of oil production – the main source of state revenues.

The main opposition parties dismissed the new cabinet, saying Bashir was unwilling to give up real power.
“This new government is like the old one, same faces, same programme. They won’t be able to solve the problems,” said Tamal Omar, Political Secretary of the Popular Congress Party, headed by Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi.
“The NCP controls parliament, just everything,” he told Reuters.

In the new cabinet the NCP will keep portfolios including finance, oil, foreign affairs, defence and the interior.

Fourteen other parties were given posts but the only major newcomer is the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which will get three posts.
“The opposition said that all the parties should sit together including the NCP to discuss a new political formula to rule Sudan, but the NCP rejected the proposal,” said Communist Party central committee member Yousuf Hassan.
“This will not solve the crisis of the country,” he said.

Sudan reported annual inflation of 19.1 percent in November, slightly down from 19.8 percent in October but almost double the level a year ago.

The economic crisis has been worsened by fighting with rebels in southern border states and in Darfur in the west, draining resources when the state needs to cut expenditure.
“Sudan is definitely on a path to the Arab Spring. People are dissatisfied because of poverty, hunger and the decline of the economy, health and education,” said Fadlallah Burma Nasir, deputy chairman of the opposition Umma Party.
“There’s nothing new in this government. This government has no ability to save Sudan from this economic and political crisis .”

Government officials say uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia will not be emulated in Sudan, which would overcome lost oil revenues by expanding gold exports and agriculture.

South Sudan became independent after voting to secede in a January referendum, the culmination of a 2005 peace deal after decades of civil war.