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Sudan’s Bashir sacks aides as regional governments resign except South Darfur

June 25, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan President Omer Al-Bashir on Monday issued a decree relieving nine of his advisers from their positions as part of a countrywide downsizing of executive authorities that saw entire regional governments tendering their resignations with the exception of South Darfur State whose government refused to step down.

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FILE PHOTO - Sudanese Minister of Presidential Affairs Bakri Hassan Saleh takes the oath before the President Omar al-Beshir (L) in the capital Khartoum on 10 December 2011. (Photo: AFP - Ashraf Shazly)

The nine advisers include six from Al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and three from other parties participating in the government that was formed in December last year.

The most notable among the NCP’s sacked advisers are Ghazi Salah Al-Din, Ibrahim Ahmad Omer, Raja Hassan Khalifa and Farida Ibrahim whereas representatives of other parties include Ahmad Bilal Osman of the ex-opposition Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ahmad Hassan Mussad from the DUP-Original faction, and Al-Sadiq al-Hadi Al-Mahdi from the Umma Party-The Collective Leadership faction.

According to one of the sacked advisers, Ahmad Bilal Osman, the decree comes as part of ongoing efforts to “reform” the Sudanese economy.

Sudan is facing a budget deficit of 2.4 billion US dollars created as a result of losing 75 percent of its oil production – the lifeblood of the economy – after South Sudan seceded in July last year.

In response, the NCP-dominated government moved to implement a tough set of austerity measures which, according to officials, include a 30 percent cut in 2 billion US dollars of fuel subsidies as well as slashing the government’s bureaucracy by reorganizing the structures of executive authorities at federal and regional levels.

The austerity measures sparked widening street protests that have been going on for ten days so far.

Meanwhile, two regional governors have announced that their entire cabinet will resign to pave the way for the formation of a new government.

The government of Khartoum State already resigned last week in compliance with austerity plans, according to state media.

Mohammed Tahir Ila, the governor of the Red Sea State in the east, said on Monday that members of his cabinet had rendered collective resignations in order to enable him to form a new government that falls in line with the new austerity measures.

The governor made the announcement during an emergency cabinet meeting and instructed a number of ministers to run the state until a new government is formed “within the upcoming days.”

According to Ila, the new government in the Red Sea State will consist of 18 ministries and ten localities. He said he remains committed to including opposition parties in the new government line-up as well as to reducing the perks of constitutional office-holders and allocating only one car to each one.

Likewise, the deputy chairman of the NCP in East Darfur State, Hassan Mahmoud Ibrahim, announced on Monday that the state government will resign tomorrow, Tuesday, in response to the austerity measures.

Ibrahim explained that all ministers, mayors and advisers would tender their resignations to the state governor, Mohammad Fadul Allah, within 24 hours in order to enable the latter to form a “slender” government consisting of only eight ministries.

Hassan Mahmoud, however, said that the government members in neighboring South Darfur State had refused to resign without giving further details.

South Darfur State’s capital Nyala witnessed a wave of unrest when the central government sacked the state governor Abdel Hamid Musa Kasha in January this year.

Some analysts say that the NCP’s attempts at a regional and federal downsizing of the government may threaten the patronage network that the party itself has greatly relied on for survival since taking power more than 22 years ago.