Protest-hit Sudan unveils new cabinet to ‘solve’ economic crisis

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Sudan’s new prime minister on Wednesday unveiled a 20-member cabinet tasked with solving an economic crisis that has triggered nationwide protests against the decades-old rule of President Omar al-Bashir.

Bashir appointed Mohamed Tahir Eila as premier last month after dissolving the previous federal government in the face of protests that have rocked his administration since December.

Eila’s cabinet is the third such government formed in less than two years, with the earlier two administrations sacked by Bashir for failing to revive the crisis-wracked economy.

Bashir on February 22 dissolved the former cabinet along with all provincial governments as he imposed a nationwide state of emergency to quell demonstrations after an initial crackdown failed to suppress the protest movement.

Eila said his new government, which retains several ministers from the previous cabinet, aimed to tackle the country’s economic crisis -- the key factor behind the protests.

“We recognize the main issues, the issues of bread and oil, that need to be solved,” Eila told reporters as he announced the names of his ministers.

The new cabinet that also includes 18 ministers of state will be sworn in on Thursday.

Eila named veteran politicians Eshaj Adam Jamaa as oil minister, while the finance portfolio was given to Magdi Hassan Yasin.

Protests initially erupted on December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread, while irregular fuel supplies have been a common feature for months across the east African country.

“The economic issues need to be solved immediately as it impacts inflation and our currency rate,” said Eila.

Although the bread price rise triggered the protests, anger had mounted across the country for years over soaring inflation and an acute shortage of foreign currency.

The foreign currency shortage particularly grew since the secession of the south in 2011 took away the bulk of oil earnings.

Protesters accuse Bashir’s administration of mismanaging the economy, while the leader has blamed the United States for the crisis.

Washington lifted a two-decade trade embargo in October 2017, but an expected economic recovery has failed to materialize.