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Sudan’s al-Bashir relieves influential presidential minister

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Taha Osman al-Hussein (C) arrives to Riyhad to represent President al-Bashir at the Arab Islamic American Summit on 20 May 2017 (ST photo)
June 14, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - President Omer al-Bashir Wednesday has relieved the state presidential minister and director of the president’s offices Taha Osman al-Hussein amid conflicting reports on the reasons behind the move.

Al-Hussein who is a security general had been appointed in June 2015 as state presidential minister and director of the president’s offices at the presidential palace and the council of ministers.

On Wednesday evening, al-Bashir issued a presidential decree appointing Hatim Hassan Bakhit as state presidential minister and director of the president’s offices. However, the decree didn’t mention whether or not al-Hussein would retain his ministerial position.

Reliable sources told Sudan Tribune that al-Hussein, who gained a reputation as being the most influential person within the president’s inner circle, was informed of his removal verbally before he was allowed to leave for Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah (lesser pilgrimage).

The reasons behind the sacking of al-Hussein are not yet known, but observers point that it might be linked to Sudan’s stance on the ongoing Gulf crisis or was due to internal differences with the Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Salih.

It has been purported that the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Tuesday verbally instructed the chief editors of Khartoum’s newspapers not to publish any reports on the issue.

Also, unconfirmed reports say he is under arrest since Tuesday evening when he sought to travel to Saudi Arabia.

During the last couple of years, al-Hussein played a pivotal role within the presidency and appeared to be the person behind important decisions especially after al-Bashir named him as personal envoy to a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Al-Hussein’s last assignment was his participation in the Arab-American Islamic Summit in Riyadh last May where he represented al-Bashir, whose participation was vetoed by Washington.

His powers have significantly infringed on the role of the foreign ministry on several occasions.

In 2016 he conveyed al-Bashir’s decision to cut ties with Iran to the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohamad bin Salman without the knowledge of the foreign ministry officials who read the news on the Saudi News Agency.

Also, following an unannounced visit to Washington last December in which he met with a number of congressmen and former President Jimmy Carter, he claimed he was the person behind the U.S. decision to ease the 19-year sanctions on Sudan.

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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