20 April 2018

Sudan President Sacks Foreign Minister Ghandou

Photo: Sudan
Ibrahim Ghandour

Khartoum — Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir fired his foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour following his criticism on the financial situation of the country's diplomatic corps on Thursday.

In a short statement, the official Sudanese News Agency (Suna) reported that President Al Bashir issued a presidential decree removing Ghandour from his position. The decision comes after the ex-minister's statements he made to lawmakers on Wednesday, saying that the salaries of Sudanese diplomats have been purposely delayed for seven months.

There was no official explanation for the move. The decision was announced hours after Al Bashir returned from Saudi Arabia where he attended the 29th Arab League summit. It is not yet clear who will replace Ghandour as minister of foreign affairs.

Speaking to lawmakers following his attendance at the Arab Summit in Saudi Arabia, Ghandour said that Sudanese embassies have not received salaries for seven months, accusing the Central Bank of Sudan of not releasing the salaries.

His statement has stirred a controversy in Sudan, with some accusing him of tarnishing the country's image by raising the issue in public. Other reactions were supportive, praising him for his courage.

Ghandour worked on several important files. He had been working on soothing Sudan's strained relations with Egypt, which fears Ethiopia would cut its Nile water share with a new massive dam that it's building on the Blue Nile. He negotiated the lift of U.S. economic sanctions with Sudan. Recently he built strong relations with Egyptian officials and successfully managed to reduce tensions between the two countries.

He reportedly already filed his resignation to the Sudanese president several months ago, to protest the appointment of the former oil minister as presidential aide.

Banks' assets

Following the statements by Ghandour, economic expert Professor Hamid Eltigani who works at the American University in Cairo, claimed that the boards of directors of Sudanese banks are "linked to networks of corruption.

"This has been caused by the lack of hard currency in the banks on the one hand, and lack of money to be cashed."

He said that the situation of liquidity has led to the exposure of assets and high debts of banks operating in Sudan. "The current reserve in the Bank of Sudan is 300 million US Dollar, which is not enough to cover one week of the needs of the country."

Employees in banks on North Kordofan have witnessed an absence of customers depositing any amounts in their accounts starting the beginning of last week.

A bank employee in El Obeid told Radio Dabanga that this may be due to "the customers' concern of depositing their money in banks and not getting it, as well as their concern of the collapse of banks and losing all their savings".

Another bank employee told this station that yesterday, he visited three banks in El Obeid city. "I found them completely empty of customers."

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