Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Sudan's post-Bashir transition faces further delay

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok still to decide on members of his cabinet after receiving list of nominees late

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been given a list of 49 nominees from which to form a cabinet. AP Photo
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been given a list of 49 nominees from which to form a cabinet. AP Photo

Sudan's hard-won transition to civilian rule fell further behind schedule on Sunday, days after the new prime minister delayed the formation of the first government since veteran leader Omar Al Bashir was removed from power.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, a seasoned UN economist who faces the daunting task of rescuing his country's moribund economy, was supposed to unveil a cabinet on Wednesday under a post-Bashir roadmap.

But he is still considering the candidates, pushing back the first meeting between the government and the joint civilian-military ruling body overseeing the transition which was supposed to have been held on Sunday.

Mr Hamdok, who was sworn in on August 21, only received the nominees list from the Forces for Freedom and Change, a coalition of groups that led the protests for civilian rule, on Tuesday.

"The FFC was late in submitting the list of nominees to the PM which has ultimately delayed the unveiling of cabinet," said protest leader Amjed Farid.

Ibrahim Al Amin, another protest leader, said the delay was "entirely the responsibility of the FFC" as there were differences within the group over the candidates.

On Sunday, the FFC said it held "deep and constructive discussions" with Mr Hamdok the day before about the candidates of the transitional cabinet. The premier has not publicly commented on the delay.

Sudan swore in a "sovereign council", a joint civilian-military ruling body, to guide the country through a three-year transitional period nearly two weeks ago.

It is the result of a power-sharing deal formally signed on August 17 between the FFC and the military generals who seized power after ousting Mr Al Bashir in April.

The deal stipulates a legislative body should be formed within 90 days of its signing.

The legislature should include no more than 300 members, with 201 seats allotted to the FFC.

Under the deal, the cabinet should be largely selected by the premier.

Only the interior and defence ministers will be chosen by the military members of Sudan's ruling body.

Mr Amin said the delay in announcing the cabinet would "certainly have a negative impact" by slowing down the transition.

It is not the first hurdle thrown up in Sudan's path out of decades of authoritarianism.

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 revealed on August 21.

Mr Hamdok, who built a career in continental and international organisations, most recently as deputy executive secretary of the UN's Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, last week confirmed receiving a list of 49 candidates for 14 ministries.

A source close to the premier told AFP on Sunday that "consultations are still under way for the final list".

Mr Hamdok, who was nominated by the protest movement, had previously said he would be choosing technocrats based on their competence to lead Sudan through formidable challenges that also include ending internal conflicts.

Rebel groups from marginalised regions including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan state waged long wars against Mr Al Bashir's forces.

Sudan's power-sharing deal aims to forge peace with armed groups.

On Saturday, four rebel groups from Darfur said they will be "negotiating with transitional authorities with a unified vision", without elaborating.

Mr Hamdok's cabinet will also be expected to fight corruption and dismantle the long-entrenched Islamist deep state created under Mr Al Bashir's 30-year rule.

The former president was taken to Kober prison in Khartoum shortly after he was toppled and was formally charged on Saturday with illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds.

Updated: September 1, 2019 06:01 PM

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