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Sudan’s Bashir promotes Taha to first vice-president and appoints a Darfurian as VP

September 13, 2011 13, 2011 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir Tuesday appointed Ali Osman Taha as first vice-president and picked a Darfurian and member of the ruling party as vice-president.

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Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir (L) talks to his Vice President Ali Osman Taha (R) upon his return from Qatar, on March 31, 2011 at Khartoum airport. (Getty)

Since last July the position of First Vice President remained vacant since the independence of South Sudan. Salva Kiir Mayadrit the former first vice-president has become president of the Republic of South Sudan.

Also the Sudanese government committed itself to appoint a Darfurian as vice president during the current term, in accordance to the Doha peace agreement. However, the government refused to include it in the peace deal it signed with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in the name of equality between the Sudanese states.

Bashir issued Tuesday a presidential decree relieving Taha from his position as vice-president and promoted him to First Vice President for the second time. Taha occupied this position in the past from 1998 to 2005 before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

The Sudanese president also named al-Haj Adam Yousef, a member of the ruling National Congress Party as vice president. Yousef is a member of the South Darfur Beni Helbah tribe. He is also one of the Islamists figures who supported Turabi since 1999 dissidence and was a leading figure of the opposition Popular Congress Party.

However in November 2010 he joined the ruling National Congress Party saying Sudan would face many threats after the expected secession of South Sudan. He cited possible conflicts over Abyei, Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, and Darfur stressing that the unity of the Islamists is vital to overcome all these challenges.

Ali Osman Taha has been marginalized since the singing of the CPA after the death of the SPLM leader John Garang three weeks after his return to Khartoum in July 2005. He was blamed by NCP hardliners for making too many concessions to the former rebel group during the negotiation process.

His appointment will likely quell speculations circulating in Khartoum about his possible removal from his position in the new government after the separation of the South Sudan.

LJM and the government on 16 July signed in Doha a protocol on the former rebels political participation in the national government and Darfur institutions. From the agreement it appears that the group was interested in Darfur regional authority and states more than the federal institutions.

In accordance with the July 16 deal, the LJM will get the chairperson position in the Darfur regional authority besides one national ministerial portfolio and two state ministers at the national level.

El-Tijani Sissi, LJM leader and former Darfur governor, indicated clearly he is not interested in the position of vice-president, saying Khartoum can give this position to a another rebel group.