Sudan’s First Cabinet since Bashir Ouster Sworn In
By Staff, Agencies
Sudan’s first Cabinet since the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir was sworn in Sunday as the African country transitions to a civilian rule after nationwide protests that overthrew the autocrat.
The 18-member Cabinet, which is led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and includes four women, took oath at the presidential palace in Khartoum, an AFP correspondent reported.
It is expected to steer the daily affairs of the country during a transition period of 39 months.
The lineup was formed after Sudan last month swore in a “sovereign council” - a joint civilian-military ruling body that aims to oversee the transition.
The 18 ministers were seen greeting members of the sovereign council, including its chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in images broadcast by state TV from the palace.
“We have to put in a lot of efforts to meet our people’s demands,” Information Minister Faisal Mohammad Saleh told reporters after the swearing-in ceremony.
“The world is watching us. It is waiting to see how we can solve our issues,” he added.
The sovereign council itself is the result of a power-sharing deal between the protesters and generals who had seized power after the army ousted Bashir in April.
Hamdok’s Cabinet, which has the country’s first female foreign affairs minister, is expected to lead Sudan through formidable challenges that also include ending internal conflicts in three regions.
Rebel groups from marginalized regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states had waged long wars against Bashir’s forces. “The road ahead is not easy. We will face many challenges but we have to work on them,” Youth and Sports Minister Walaa Issam said.
Sudan’s power-sharing deal aims to forge peace with armed groups.
Hamdok’s Cabinet will also be expected to fight corruption and dismantle the long-entrenched Islamist deep state created under Bashir.
Bashir had seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989 and ruled Sudan with an iron fist for three decades until his ouster.
It was a worsening economic crisis that triggered his fall. Bashir is now on trial on charges of illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds.
The key challenge facing the new government is reviving the ailing economy. “We have a 200-day program for reviving the economy in a way that could help reduce the cost of living for our people in the near term,” Finance Minister Ibrahim Ahmad al-Badawi said.
“We also have a long-term plan to restructure the overall economy,” he said, adding that the country was soon expecting new donations to help tackle some immediate challenges.
According to doctors linked to the umbrella protest movement that led to Bashir’s fall, more than 250 people have been killed in protest-related violence since December.
Of those, at least 127 were killed in early June during a brutal crackdown on a weekslong protest sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum. Officials have given a lower death toll.