Sudan’s PM Reshuffles Cabinet

Sudanese Prime Minister Hassan Saleh announced a new government Thursday, with changes to economic ministers, including the oil, investment and finance chiefs.

Sudan’s constitution was amended in December to introduce the position of prime minister, a demand of opposition parties that took part in a national dialogue with the government, with the aim of redistributing some of the president’s extensive powers.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s long war against various rebel groups has coincided with a severe economic downturn. This year’s budget foresees a growing deficit and slower growth.

The economic problems have been building since the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the oil output, the main source of foreign currency and government income.

“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 Thursday.

Mohamed Othman Rukabi, a former army lieutenant general, was appointed finance minister, Saleh said. Mubarak Fadel al-Mahdi was appointed minister of investment, while Abdulrahman Othman Abdulrahman was appointed oil minister.

Saleh also announced that Hamed al-Mannan would become minister of interior.

Saleh was appointed prime minister March 1. It was the first time that Bashir has appointed a prime minister since he came to power in 1989 in an Islamist and military-backed coup.

Saleh, a longtime ally, is the last member of the group of officers that launched the coup to remain at Bashir’s side.

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