The formation of Sudan's first national unity government is a major step in implementing the peace deal signed by the regime in Khartoum and the former southern rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).

 

"This government is a good omen and represents the will of the Sudanese people to establish peace and consolidate national unity," President Omar al-Bashir said on national television on Tuesday.

 

A senior member of Beshir's National Congress Party (NCP) read the names of his movement's ministers during a press conference and said that the full cabinet line-up would be announced by the president himself later on Tuesday.

 

Self-determination

 

The interim government will remain in place until legislative elections are held in around four years. A six-year post-war interim rule started in July, after which the south will hold a referendum on self-determination.

 

SPLM of Salva Kiir (L) has 28%
share of power in the set-up

Among the appointments, the much coveted Oil Ministry was handed to the ruling northern party but the Foreign Ministry was for the first time granted to a southerner.

 

Awad Ahmed al-Jaz of the NCP retains the Energy Mining Ministry.

 

The government was formed in line with quotas provided by the 9 January Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which grants the NCP a 52% share of power.

 

According to the same power-sharing agreement, the SPLM of First Vice President Salva Kiir has 28%, the northern opposition 14% and the southern opposition 6%.

 

Delayed by death

 

The government was supposed to have been in place by 9 August, but its formation was disrupted by the death in a 30 July helicopter crash of the southern leader John Garang, whom Salva Kiir succeeded.

 

Negotiations over the distribution of portfolios had also stumbled on the issue of oil wealth, with both the NCP and SPLM refusing to relinquish the crucial energy and mining portfolio to the other.

 

Al-Turabi's party will not be
represented in the government

Sudan currently has a crude output of more than 300,000 barrels per day and aims to reach the half-million mark by the end of the year.

 

Several major movements will not be represented in the national unity government, among them the Popular Congress of Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi and the Umma party of Sadiq al-Mahdi.

 

In a bid to abide by the quotas while maintaining the fractious country's fragile ethnic and political balance, each ministry will be represented by a minister and a state minister.

 

The war that raged for 21 years between the Muslim northern regime and the mainly Christian south left up to two million people dead and twice as many displaced.

 

Rebel attack

 

Aljazeera meanwhile said the Sudanese armed forces have admitted that the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) in Darfur has captured Shiairiya town in southern Darfur state.

 

The rebels captured the town of Shiairiya from government forces in a surprise attack on Tuesday, killing more than 80 government soldiers. 
   

A Sudanese military official confirmed the rebels had taken
control of the town, about 70km northeast of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state. 
   

The official added the rebels had tried to attack nearby
areas on Tuesday but had been repulsed by government forces. 
   

"The town is under rebel control," said the official, who did not want to be named. 

 

A statement by the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, signed
by spokesman Mahjoub Hussein, said the rebels acted in response to government intrusions into rebel-held territory.