Sudan’s new prime minister on Thursday unveiled the first Cabinet since the overthrow of former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, a major step in the country’s hard-won transition to civilian rule after decades of authoritarianism.
The announcement had been delayed for days as Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok mulled over the nominees proposed by the movement that led the months-long protests against al-Bashir and also the generals who ousted him.
The 18-member Cabinet includes four women, including the country’s first-ever female foreign affairs minister, Asma Mohamed Abdalla, Hamdok told a news conference.
“Today we begin a new era,” Hamdok said. “The top priority of the transition government is to end the war and build sustainable peace.”
Hamdok named Ibrahim Ahmed El-Badawi as minister of finance and economic planning, army Lieutenant General Jamal Omar as defense minister and police Lieutenant General El-Trafi Idris Dafallah as minister of interior.
“Now we have a great chance to achieve peace, as we have a suitable environment for that,” Hamdok said.
It was a worsening economic crisis that triggered the fall of al-Bashir, who was later arrested and is on trial on charges of illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds.
The protests that eventually brought him down were ignited late last year by his government’s decision to triple the price of bread. The demonstrations swiftly mushroomed into a nationwide protest movement against his three-decade rule, finally leading to his ouster in April.
However, the generals who ousted him resisted a swift handover of power to civilians.
In response, protesters kept up the pressure against them, leading to a power-sharing deal signed last month between the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) protest movement and the generals.
Doctors linked to the FFC have said that more than 250 people have been killed in protest-related violence since December last year, including at least 127 in early June during a brutal crackdown on a weeks-long protest sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum.
The Cabinet is expected to steer the daily affairs of the country during a transition period of 39 months.
On Tuesday, Hamdok, who built a career in international organizations, most recently as deputy executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, said that the delay in forming the Cabinet was due to the “gender balance” he had been trying to achieve.
He said that he also wanted to ensure that the Cabinet represented all the regions of the country.
Last month, Sudan swore in a “sovereign council,” a joint civilian-military ruling body that aims to oversee the transition.
The council is the result of the power-sharing deal between the protesters and generals who seized power after the army ousted al-Bashir.
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.
Hamdok, who was nominated by the protest movement, had previously said that he would choose technocrats based on their “competence” to lead Sudan through formidable challenges that also include ending internal conflicts.
Sudan’s power-sharing deal aims to forge peace with armed groups.
Rebel groups from marginalized regions, including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan state, waged long wars against al-Bashir’s forces.
Hamdok’s Cabinet would also be expected to fight corruption and dismantle the long-entrenched Muslim deep state created under al-Bashir.
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