KHARTOUM, 9 February 2021 – Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok on Monday formed his second cabinet after a year of negotiations with armed groups.
The 25-member cabinet includes officials from the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), with Mariam al-Mahdi in the position of foreign minister and Gibril Ibrahim leading the finance portfolio.
Hamdok told a press conference that the cabinet marks a new phase in Sudan’s political transition.
Prime Minister Hamdok told reporters that he believes his cabinet will be endorsed by the Council of the Transitional Period.
The Sudanese prime minister said his cabinet will focus on economic issues, implementing peace agreements, handling negotiations, implementing reforms and coordinating transitional justice issues.
The South Sudanese capital, Juba, hosted the negotiations leading to the formation of the new cabinet.
Hamdok promised to seek forgiveness for Sudan’s enormous debt estimated at $70 billion under the World Bank-IMF-managed Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
Sudan’s economy is sinking under the weight of many decades of biting American sanctions, mismanagement, overspending on a war with South Sudan, corruption and mismanagement.
“We are close to making a shift in the economy and there will be no collapse,” Hamdok told reporters in response to questions speculating that the Sudanese economy might be on the brink.
As the prime minister spoke, protests were erupting across several parts of the country over the rising cost of living.
Thousands demonstrated ina key port city of Port Sudan in the restive Darfur region and other parts of the country.
“No to high prices, no to hunger,” protesters – many of them students – chanted, as police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
Protesters responded by hurling stones at the riot police teams and setting fire to several shops in the center of the town.
Schools and shops closed down as the demonstrations spread through Port Sudan and other towns like Nyala in South Darfur and towns in North Kordofan state.
The new cabinet retains five ministers from the previous cabinet and includes four women.
Only one of the armed groups – the SPLM-N – nominated a woman: Buthaina Ali Dinar to the role of minister of federal government.