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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

New Sudan prime minister sworn in as protests show no sign of abating

Army and intelligence officers also sworn in as governors

Mohamed Tahir Ela smiles after being sworn in as prime minister during a ceremony of new officials after President Omar Al Bashir dissolved the central and state governments in Khartoum. Reuters 
Mohamed Tahir Ela smiles after being sworn in as prime minister during a ceremony of new officials after President Omar Al Bashir dissolved the central and state governments in Khartoum. Reuters 

Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir swore in a new prime minister on Sunday amidst renewed calls for him to resign, two days after announcing a year-long national state of emergency. The move follows a deadly government crackdown on ongoing protests against the leader's three-decade rule.

President Al Bashir dissolved the cabinet and provincial governments, and pledged to bring in technocrats to help end the economic crisis, the key reason behind the demonstrations.

"Firm economic measures should be taken in a new government," Mr Al Bashir said. "I extend a sincere invitation to the opposition forces, who are still outside the path of national reconciliation ... to move forward and engage in the dialogue regarding the current issues of our country."

The former governor of the agricultural state of Jazeera, Mohamed Tahir Ela, was sworn in as the new prime minister, AFP reported. Defence Minister General Awad Ibnouf was also sworn in as the first vice president after his predecessor Bakri Hassan Saleh was sacked by the president.

Mr Al Bashir also swore in 16 army officers and two officers from the National Intelligence and Security Service as new governors for the country's 18 provinces, while the streets of Khartoum filled with demonstrators.

These changes come ahead of the expected announcement of an entirely new cabinet, as part of the president's push to replace top level names.

Just across the Nile from Khartoum, in the twin city of Omdurman, more residents rallied.

"We want to give the president a message that the state of emergency will not deter us," protester Sawsan Bashir told AFP. "Our aim is to overthrow this regime and we will do it."

Protest organisers have vowed to continue with daily rallies, accusing Mr Al Bashir and his officials of mismanagement of the economy that has led to soaring food prices and a shortage of foreign currency.

Confrontations between protesters and security forces have left 31 people dead since protests first erupted on December 19, officials say.

Human Rights Watch says at least 51 people have been killed including medics and children.

Protests initially erupted in the labour town of Atbara after a government decision to triple the price of bread.

But the rallies swiftly escalated into protests against Mr Al Bashir's iron-fisted rule, with protesters calling for his resignation.

The veteran leader, who swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, said last month that protesters had been attempting to copy the Arab uprisings of 2011. He accused angry residents of exaggerating the country's woes.

"We do not claim there is no problem, but it is not of the size or dimensions that some of the media portray," he said in January.

"This is an attempt to copy the Arab Spring in Sudan, these are the same slogans and appeals and the very wide use of social media sites."

Updated: February 24, 2019 07:52 PM

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