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Sovereign Council member denies being behind row over Sudan’s health minister

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May 13, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - Sovereign Council Member Siddiq Tawer Wednesday denied reports saying he argued with the Minister of Health, Akram Eltom, and recommended to remove him from office.

Akram Eltom speaks to reporters on 19 March 2020 (SC photo)

Tawer who chairs the Higher Committee for Health Emergencies over COVID-19 was speaking to Sudan Tribune after the release of a controversial statement by the Sovereign Council speaking about an agreement with the prime minister to remove Eltom from his position during a meeting on 6 May.

Also, some media outlets reported a dispute between Eltom and Tawer during a meeting of the COVID-19 committee following what he sought to persuade the prime minister to dismiss him.

However, Tawer told Sudan Tribune that this report was "inaccurate" and that there were attempts to "distort and spread frustration" without elaborating.

He further said that there are differences of views that appear during any joint action, but that cannot be called a conflict.

Also, he underscored he was not part of a meeting, during which the Sovereign Council recommended to dismiss the health minister.

"I have nothing to do with the recommendation to dismiss the Minister of Health or others. Rather, I submitted an assessment of the performance of the Higher Committee for Health Emergencies during the last period, which includes all positive and negative aspects as a matter of information only," he said.

Tawer was referring to a report on the Committee efforts to tackle the COVID-19 he made to a joint meeting of the Transitional Sovereign Council, the Council of Ministers, and the Forces for Freedom and Change last Thursday.

Observers in Khartoum have warned against the multiplicity of committees and advisors that Hamdok has surrounded the ministers with, as they interfere in the action of the government and obstruct their activities.

Sources close to the file said the head of the COVID-19 committee requested to put at the disposal of his committee all the support that Sudan received to fight the coronavirus but the minister rejected the idea saying that would complicate further the activities of his ministry.

Tawer stressed that his committee has no mandate to demand the dismissal of the health minister.

He further accused some parties of seeking "to poison the atmosphere", as he said.

"In general, the issue of dismissing X or Z does not pertain to the personal mood (...) but there are saboteurs who present things according to their purposes," he added.

The statement of the civilian member of the Sovereign Council distancing himself from the statement released by the Sovereign Council on Eltom removal joined what the government’s rejection of any interference by the collegial presidency on the activities of the cabinet.

Sovereign Council Vs Cabinet

Faisal Mohamed Saleh, the information minister and government spokesman, strongly dismissed on Wednesday the accuracy of the statement issued by the Sovereign Council about the dismissal of the health minister.

In a press statement on Wednesday, Saleh said that there is no agreement, recommendation or approval by any party to dismiss the Minister of Health.

At the same time, he acknowledged that some members of the Sovereign Council have some observations on the minister’s performance.

"Many opinions were heard, including calls for his dismissal, and the response was that this is not the appropriate place to discuss the matter.

"The Cabinet confirms its confidence in the Minister of Health, and appreciates the efforts made by all health personnel to meet the current challenge," he emphasized.

For his part, Albaraq Alnazir the spokesman of the prime minister stated that the Council of Minister only can dismiss a minister before to add "the statement of the Sovereign Council does not concern us in any way".

In the same trend, the FFC condemned the statement of the Sovereign Council about the sack of the health minister.

"The Sovereign Council’s insistence on publishing this false information is a serious matter that complicates the already complex situation in the country. We condemn this move and we will stand firmly against it."

It is worth noting that the Sovereign Council released the statement and withdrew it before to publish it again.

(ST)

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