Sudan awaits new cabinet as premier mulls line-up

The transitional council is expected to steer the country through a three-year transition to civilian rule. (File/AFP)
Updated 29 August 2019

Sudan awaits new cabinet as premier mulls line-up

  • The new PM was supposed to pick the nominees for the cabinet on Wednesday
  • A source reports that he still hasn’t made any final decisions

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s new prime minister was Thursday locked in talks to form the first cabinet since the ouster of veteran leader Omar Al-Bashir, in another step in its transition from decades of autocratic rule.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok had been due to name his key picks on Wednesday, following last week’s swearing in of a joint civilian-military sovereign council.
The council is due to steer the country through a three-year transition to civilian rule.
On Thursday a source close to Hamdok said the prime minister was still considering nominees for the cabinet.
“Deliberations are still underway and it is not clear when they will end,” the source told AFP.
Hamdok, who took the oath last week, was set to make his selection from a field put forward by the Forces for Freedom Change — an umbrella group that led months-long protests against Bashir and then pushed the generals who deposed him in April to share power.
On Tuesday, Hamdok confirmed that he had received the FFC’s list of candidates including 49 nominees for 14 ministries.
The FFC and the generals signed a power-sharing deal earlier in August outlining Sudan’s transitional structures.
Under the deal, the cabinet should be largely selected by the premier.
Only the interior and defense ministers will be chosen by the military members of Sudan’s ruling body.
On Saturday, Hamdok told a local television channel that he would select technocrats based on their “competence.”
The delay however raised concerns among some in Sudan.
“It is not good... the country has been without a government for almost five months now,” said 48-year-old Hassan Abdelmeguid, who is a government employee.
“Sudan is facing a great deal of challenges and require quick formation of a government,” he added.
Sudan’s economy was dealt devastating blows by two decades of US sanctions, which were only lifted in 2017, and the 2011 secession of the oil-rich south.
Spiralling inflation and acute hardship were the main triggers for the anti-Bashir protests that erupted in December.
Much-needed foreign investment remains hampered by Sudan’s designation by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Hamdok said he is holding talks with US officials to remove Sudan from Washington’s blacklist.
Another challenge is forging peace with rebel groups in the country’s far-flung regions within six months.
Rebel groups from marginalized regions including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan state waged long wars against Bashir’s government forces.
The three conflicts have left hundreds of thousands of people killed and millions displaced.
And though the conflict in Darfur which erupted in 2003 has subsided over the years, rebels in other areas remain active.
Wednesday’s delay was not the first challenge facing the country’s transition to civilian rule.
The line-up of Sudan’s 11-member sovereign council was held up for two days over differences within the opposition camp before it was finally announced on August 21.
According to the roadmap toward transition, the new government and the sovereign council are expected to meet for the first time on September 1 but it is now unclear if that date will be kept.
Government employee Sanya Mohamed said the delays may be for good reasons.
“If they serve the purpose of bringing in competent people, then it is alright,” the 33-year-old said.
“But if it was due to disagreements over the candidates then the delay would be worrying. The country can not take it.”


Israeli defence chief says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations

Updated 26 min 33 sec ago

Israeli defence chief says he's preparing for consequences of West Bank annexations

  • Gantz said he ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel's pending annexation of parts of the West Bank
  • Netanyahu has pledged to begin cabinet discussions on July 1 on the plan

JERUSALEM: Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday he ordered the military to step up preparations for Israel's pending annexation of parts of the West Bank, a plan that could stoke Palestinian violence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to begin cabinet discussions on July 1 on extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, occupied territory that Palestinians seek for a state.
Gantz's directive appeared to indicate that the centrist politician had either signed on to the move, or at least believed it would be inevitable, given right-wing support in the Netanyahu-led coalition cabinet.
In public remarks to legislators of his centrist Blue and White party, Gantz noted a recent uptick in anti-Israeli violence in the West Bank and the Palestinians' declaration last month that they were ending security cooperation with Israel over the annexation issue.
He said he had subsequently ordered the chief of staff, Lieutenant-General Aviv Kochavi, to "examine all the ramifications and the required preparations" stemming from moving ahead with the peace plan US President Donald Trump announced in January, a blueprint that could ease annexation.
In a separate written statement, Gantz said "preparations by the Israel Defence Forces should be stepped up ahead of pending diplomatic moves regarding the Palestinians".
The Palestinians have rejected Trump's proposal, under which the vast majority of West Bank settlements built by Israel on land captured in the 1967 Middle East war would be incorporated into "contiguous Israeli territory".
The Palestinians and most countries consider such settlements illegal. Israel disputes this.
The Trump plan also envisages a Palestinian state under near-complete Israeli security control, creating what Palestinians leaders say would be an unviable country.
Sami Abu Zuhri, an official with militant group Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip, another part of Palestinians' hoped-for future state, told Reuters: "The call of the occupation army to get ready for annexation of the West Bank is a call for war, and the occupation will regret this crime, and soon realise they are committing a grave mistake."