Sudan’s first cabinet since the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir was sworn in Sunday as the African country transitions to a civilian rule following nationwide protests that overthrew the autocrat.
The 18-member cabinet led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, which includes four women, took oath at the presidential palace in Khartoum, an AFP correspondent reported.
It is expected to steer the daily affairs of the country during a transition period of 39 months.
The line-up was formed after Sudan last month swore in a “sovereign council” — a joint civilian-military ruling body that aims to oversee the transition.
The 18 ministers were seen greeting members of the sovereign council, including its chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in images broadcast by state television from the palace.
The cabinet includes four women, among them Asmaa Abdallah, who will be the country’s first female foreign minister.
It also includes Ibrahim Elbadawi, a former World Bank economist who will serve as finance minister, and Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the civilian coalition that negotiated the transition deal with the military, as a minister of industry and trade.
General Jamal Omar, a member of the Transitional Military Council that took over from al-Bashir, was appointed as defence minister and Lt Gen Idriss al Traifi as interior minister.
“We have to put in a lot of efforts to meet our people’s demands,” Information Minister Faisal Mohamed Saleh told reporters after the swearing in ceremony.
“The world is watching us. It is waiting to see how we can solve our issues.”
The sovereign council itself is the result of a power-sharing deal between the protesters and generals who had seized power after the army ousted Bashir in April.
Hamdok’s cabinet, which has the country’s first female foreign affairs minister, is expected to lead Sudan through formidable challenges that also include ending internal conflicts in three regions.
Rebel groups from marginalised regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan states had waged long wars against Bashir’s forces.
“The road ahead is not easy. We will face many challenges but we have to work on them,” said Walaa Issam, Minister for youth and sports.
– ‘200-day programme’ –
Sudan’s power-sharing deal aims to forge peace with armed groups.
Hamdok’s cabinet will also be expected to fight corruption and dismantle the long-entrenched Islamist deep state created under Bashir.
Bashir had seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989 and ruled Sudan with an iron fist for three decades until his ouster.
It was a worsening economic crisis that triggered the fall of Bashir, who is now on trial on charges of illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds.
The key challenge facing the new government is reviving the ailing economy.
“We have a 200-day programme for reviving the economy in a way that could help reduce the cost of living for our people in the near term,” said Finance Minister Ibrahim Ahmad Al-Badawi.
“We also have a long term plan to restructure the overall economy,” he said, adding that the country was soon expecting new donations to help tackle some immediate challenges.
According to doctors linked to the umbrella protest movement that led to Bashir’s fall, more than 250 people have been killed in protest-related violence since December.
Of that at least 127 were killed in early June during a brutal crackdown on a weeks-long protest sit-in outside the military headquarters in Khartoum. Officials have given a lower death toll.
The new ministers are:
- Interior Affairs: Gen El Tereifi Idris
- Federal Government: Yousef El Dei
- Foreign Affairs: Asmaa Abdallah
- Justice: Nasreldin Abdelbari
- Finance: Dr Ibrahim El Badawi
- Defence: Lt Gen Jamal Omar
- Cabinet Affairs: Omar Manis
- Health: Dr Akram El Toom
- Education: Dr Mohamed El Amin El Toom
- Higher Education: Dr Intisar El Zein
- Industry and Trade: Madani Abbas
- Energy and Mining: Adil Ibrahim
- Irrigation and Water Resources: Yasir Abbas
- Agriculture: Eisa Osman
- Labour and Social Development: Lina El Sheikh
- Culture and Information: Feisal Mohamed Salih
- Religious Affairs: Nasreldin Mofara
- Youth and Sports: Walaa El Boushi