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Sudan announces formation of first government since Bashir’s ouster

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Sudan’s prime minister announced on Thursday the formation of the first government since the ousting of former President Omar al-Bashir in April.

The government will operate under a three-year power-sharing agreement signed last month between the military, civilian parties and opposition groups.

Handouk announced the names of 18 ministers and said he would appoint two more later.

“The government will start working immediately in a collective and harmonious way,” Handouk told a news conference in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Thursday evening.

“We are seeking a national project and restructuring the Sudanese state.”

The new government represents an important step in moving away from Bashir’s 30-year rule, during which Sudan has suffered internal strife, international isolation and deep economic problems.

However, months after the ouster of Bashir saw tensions between powerful security forces and civic groups lobbying for democracy, reform and justice for those killed during the crackdown.

The announcement of the formation of the government was postponed due to consultations on ministerial positions.

Most of the 18 ministers named on Thursday were approved earlier this week, including four women, including Asma Abdullah, who became the first woman to become foreign minister.

The cabinet also includes Ibrahim al-Badawi, a former World Bank economist who will be finance minister.

Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the civilian coalition that negotiated with the army on the interim agreement, will be minister of industry and commerce.

General Jamal Omar, a member of the Transitional Military Council, will be the Ministry of Defense.

– Challenges –

Among the challenges facing the government of Hamdok will be to find a source to finance the bill for the import of basic commodities such as flour and fuel, estimated at billions of dollars, as well as negotiating the removal of Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism and reducing the military allocations that deduct an estimated 70 percent of the budget.

All this is in addition to security and peacekeeping in areas affected by conflict with insurgencies and other challenges.

“The most important priorities of the interim period are stopping the war and building sustainable peace,” Handouk said on Thursday.

“The bearers of arms are an integral part of the revolution and now the (political) climate is creating a great opportunity to reach understandings on peace.”

Sudan’s future is essential for the stability of a volatile and conflict-ridden region. Rich Gulf Arab states are competing for influence and have close ties to top military commanders, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The army overthrew Bashir and arrested him after 16 weeks of protests over an economic crisis that included a sharp rise in inflation and a shortage of cash and fuel.

The junta took power after Bashir and began talks with opposition and protest groups, but negotiations have stalled over the use of violence to deal with protests that have continued.

Under the deal signed last month, a sovereign council will oversee the first 21 months before handing over power to civilians for 18 months before elections.

The dramatic changes in Sudan are reminiscent of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings in some countries in the region.

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