Sudan’s prime minister names new cabinet

Reshuffle comes as Abdalla Hamdok struggles to push through reforms and secure foreign financing to boost economy.

Hamdok's new government has several ministers from former rebel groups [Marwan Ali/AP Photo]

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok appointed Darfur rebel leader Gibril Ibrahim as finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle on Monday.

Hamdok announced his new cabinet, which includes ministers from the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance of armed groups, in a televised news conference in the capital, Khartoum.

The reshuffle comes as Hamdok struggles to push through reforms and secure foreign financing seen as crucial to easing a deep economic crisis and bolstering Sudan’s transition to democracy.

Hamdok, who was appointed following a military-civilian power-sharing deal after the removal of Omar al-Bashir, had led a cabinet of technocrats which has had an uneasy relationship with the military.

The new government has several ministers from former rebel groups. Among the appointments were Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi, a leader of the popular Umma Party and daughter of a former prime minister and Bashir opponent Sadiq al-Mahdi, who has been named as foreign minister.

Sudan’s economy was decimated under al-Bashir by decades of United States sanctions, mismanagement and civil war, as well as the independence of oil-rich South Sudan in 2011.

Galloping inflation, chronic hard currency shortages and a flourishing black market remain pressing challenges, with protests in recent weeks over the worsening economy.

Reshuffle after rebel peace deal

The reshuffle follows a peace deal signed in October with some rebel groups. It was aimed at ending conflicts in Darfur and southern Sudan, awarded the groups posts in transitional institutions, and reset the clock on a 39-month transition to elections.

Fighting in Darfur since 2003 left at least 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the United Nations.

Despite the October peace deal, violence has continued in Darfur, a vast and impoverished region awash with weapons where bitter rivalries over land and water remain.

Analysts say the peace deal and long-delayed appointments to transitional bodies are important steps, though the replacement of qualified technocrats with political figures could throw up new challenges.

Source: News Agencies