Sudan forms ‘national unity government’ after delays

The announcement comes following months of delays. While ministerial positions have been allotted to opposition groups the new government remains dominated by allies of President Omar Bashir.

Sudanese Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh on Thursday announced the formation of a new national unity government set to include some 31 cabinet ministers, in addition to 44 ministers of state.

65 members of parliament have also been appointed.

The declaration follows a series of delays in the formation of a new government due to complications and disagreements between various parties involved in the country’s national dialogue over the allotment of ministerial portfolios and seats in parliament.

During that process over 90 different political parties and armed movements sought representation in Sudan’s new government.

An announcement is set to be made on Friday announcing the start of the new government’s mission.

Notable appointments include the appointment of Mohamed Osman al-Rikabi, a former director of administrative affairs at the country’s Defence Ministry as Finance Minister, and the inclusion of Mubarak al-Fadil, the leader of the opposition Umma party as Investment Minister.

New ministers have also been appointed to the country’s oil, and economy ministries.

While Saleh noted that the ruling National Congress Party had given up 12 portfolios, six cabinet ministers, and six ministers of state, it, along with its allies continue to dominate the new government.

Sudan’s constitution was amended in December to introduce the position of prime minister – now taken up by Saleh – following demands from opposition parties that took part in national dialogue sessions with the government.

The move was aimed at redistributing some of President Omar Hassan Bashir’s extensive powers.

Bashir, who stands accused of gross human rights violations, has conducted a drawn out war with rebel groups that has coincided with a severe economic downturn in the country, with a growing deficit and slower growth also predicted this year.

A growing economic crisis has been developing since 2011, when South Sudan seceded, taking with it three-quarters of oil output, the central source of government income and foreign currency.

“This government comes to implement the recommendations of the national dialogue, the country’s largest political event after independence in 1956. The government’s priorities are to increase production and people’s livelihoods and achieve peace,” Saleh said at news conference on Thursday.

The Sudanese Prime Minister added that the new government would seek to resolve Sudan’s economic crisis and end conflict in the country’s troubled Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile regions.

Saleh was appointed prime minister on March 1 in a move that marked the first time that Bashir had appointed a prime minister since seizing power in an Islamist and military-backed coup in 1989.

He is the last remaining member of a group of officers that conducted the coup that brought Bashir to power.