June 3, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has officially resumed his duties at the guesthouse in Khartoum on Tuesday, three weeks after undergoing knee surgery.
- Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (center) meeting with the higher committee to follow up on the implementation of the economic reform measures in Khartoum June 3, 2014 (SUNA)
He met with foreign minister Ali Karti, who briefed him on his recent tour in Norway, the Czech Republic and Turkey.
Bashir then chaired the meeting of the higher committee to follow up on the implementation of the economic reform measures in the presence of first vice-president Bakri Hassan Salih, second vice-president Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman and several ministers from the economic sector.
On 12 May, Bashir underwent a knee replacement surgery at the Royal Care hospital in Khartoum. He appeared on TV the day after and then went into a recovery period in which he disappeared from public view.
This fuelled rumours that his health took a nosedive, with some even speculating that he died. Others asserted that Bashir has undergone throat surgery and not one in his knee as was announced.
The 70-year-old president underwent throat surgery in Qatar more than a year-and-a-half ago and another one a few months later in Saudi Arabia.
A year ago, he secretly flew again to Saudi Arabia again for a medical check-up, according to a presidential source at the time.
Karti told the official news agency (SUNA) that he briefed Bashir on the outcome of the conference which was held recently in Norway to support humanitarian situation in South Sudan, adding that he received presidential directives to promote and strengthen Sudan’s foreign ties.
He also said the meeting discussed the impact of internal events on the work of the foreign ministry, saying Sudan’s positions are not being properly reflected to the outside world.
The foreign minister highlighted the efforts made by his ministry to clarify the internal situation in the country, accusing unnamed bodies of exploiting domestic events to serve their own agendas.
Meanwhile, the finance minister, Badr Al-Din Mahmoud, said their meeting with Bashir on economic reform measures discussed the ongoing preparations for the summer planting season besides the fiscal and monetary performance.
The minister said he the participants on measures applied by his ministry to secure several foreign loans, including one from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to finance agricultural and electricity projects besides a $100 million loan from the Saudi Development Fund (SDF) to finance agricultural projects and a $50 million loan from the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) to finance the small scale producers.
Mahmoud said the meeting also discussed the performance of the banking system, pointing that several directives has been issued to restructure the Agricultural Bank and improve its institutional performance besides focusing on the traditional farming sector in order to produce basic cereals and food commodities.
He further said the meeting discussed the need to control the distribution of petroleum materials in the various states besides reviewing laws concerning smuggling of certain goods and crimes relating to destroying the national economy.
Sudan’s economy was hit hard since the southern part of the country declared independence in July 2011, taking with it about 75% of the country’s oil output.
Sudan’s external debt is estimated to have grown by 27% since 2008 from $32.6 billion to $41.4 billion in 2011. The IMF forecasted the debt level to reach $43.7 billion in 2012 and $45.6 billion in 2013. The latter represents 83% of Sudan’s 2011 GDP, which was $55.1 billion.
MACHAR VISIT AWAITING DATE
South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar was supposed to travel to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, after his six-day visit to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. However, his press secretary James Gatdet Dak told Sudan Tribune that the visit to Khartoum was delayed until president Bashir recovered from his sickness.
“The planned visit to Khartoum by our leadership is delayed because president Bashir wants to meet with Dr. Riek Machar in person. We, however, understand he is currently sick. He will tell us when he is ready to receive us so that we travel to Khartoum for the consultations on the peace process,” Dak said.
Dak added that if the delay continued the opposition group’s leadership may visit another regional country before Sudan.