Sudan: New Cabinet Received With Skepticism

Khartoum (Sudanow) - A wave of disappointment and dismay had engulfed the Sudanese public upon the announcement of the new cabinet.

While the people had expected to see new faces, they now see a repeat of the majority faces included in the previous government dissolved by President Omer Bashir in his address in late February. It is a power-sharing government rather than a government of technocrats-or qualified cadres - as it has been promised.

The new cabinet was received with bitter and biting public criticism. Comments ranged from describing the new cabinet as "poor" and "disappointing" to dubbing it as a "recycling of the same faces." Some have described it as a government of "dooms" rather than a one of qualified persons, playing on the nearly similarly sounding Arabic words: Kafa'aat (qualified cadres) and Kafwat (dooms).

About this government and what the public should expect from it, Sudanow Magazine has consulted some experts and political analysts,

Political Analyst Abdelrahman Alamin said: In his address on 22 February President Bashir had announced that he would form a "government of tasks" that would bring together capable and qualified personalities. That announcement had raised the ceiling of public expectations. They expected the new cabinet to be based upon the criteria of capability. But those expectations were dashed when they saw no more than a power-sharing government between the ruling party and its allies. This government was not accepted by the people, both government supporters and government adversaries. Even the new Prime Minister Mohammad Tahir Aila had privately said that "you must know that this is a de-facto government. You know that there is a national dialogue in process.. There are political forces engaged in this dialogue. Agreements were signed with forces that returned to the country and opted for peace."

Alamin went on to add that: Some observers say the new government took this shape because while President Bashir had distanced himself from his ruling National Congress Party, it was impossible for him to sever his ties with the political parties engaged in the national dialogue because he is in need of political backing. The same observers also argue that this government is a care-taker government that may be short-lived and its tenure may come to an end once the national dialogue is over. This is what President Bashir had said in this regard: "This government will be in place until we finish our dialogue with the opposition forces that did not participate in the national dialogue."

According to Alamin the failure of the previous two governments (that of General Bakri Hassan Salih and that of Mr. Mu'taz Musa) may also characterize this government because, like those two, it is a power-sharing government and also because those two governments did not pay attention to the political crisis and were preoccupied with the economic crisis. However, what characterizes the new Cabinet is that Prime Minister Aila has confirmed that his government has a political mission. He has also confirmed that he would engage the armed groups. "Such a move was absent from the agenda of the previous two governments. And this could open a window of hope because a solution for any problem begins by recognizing that problem; there is a political crisis that materialized in an economic crisis." Alamin added that "ila's government may succeed if it keenly heads toward serious dialogue. The precondition for such a dialogue is the creation of an atmosphere of liberties. Further, such a dialogue should be between equals and there should be a commitment to implement outcome of this dialogue. Sudan is rich in qualified cadres. But qualified cadres alone cannot resolve problems. Due policies and strategies should be put in place, in addition, of course, to a conducive climate. As I see it, the present political atmosphere is not helpful for resolving problems, whatever qualified cadres we may have. This is our last chance. All political leaders should leave their personal and political interests behind them. The national interests should be put first and we have to realize that the people of the Sudan have suffered enough."

Political Analyst, Secretary of Foreign Relations in the Popular Congress Party, Nadir Yousuf Alsiyoufi, said the announcement of the new Cabinet had 'depressed' the public because of the re-emergence of names from the previous governments. Such names did not achieve something of value in the past.

Adds Alsiyoufi: The new cabinet did not include capable figures as promised. It is a blend of names from the national dialogue conference parties who back the government, in addition to some technocrats. There is no clear reason for the inability of the ruling party to form a government of qualified national cadres except for the ruling party's desire to appoint those who render it complete political allegiance. By this cabinet formation there is no hope that this government can make big breakthroughs that can lead to the resolution of Sudan's economic and political crises. There is no question that the Sudan is rich in qualified cadres and scholars with proven genus and success locally, regionally and globally. We could have attracted some of these if there is an improvement in the Sudanese political environment that could only be attained through the political liberties and the augmentation of the scope of consultation.

Adds Alsiyoufi: All the political parties of the country should understand that the protraction of this political crisis may lead to the breakdown of the country's economy and open doors for foreign intervention that sets the security of the country into jeopardy. We have to come to dialogue with open minds and make the necessary concessions, in particular on the part of the ruling party in order to safeguard the country and its people

Chief Editor of Almighar Alsiasi newspaper Salah Habib said the journalists, who attended the prime minister press conference, were astounded by names of the new shakeup in the presidential decree that was read by Eila as they noticed that three-quarters of the names were ministers in the outgoing government and the rest were hitherto unknown to the press or the public or unqualified to take up the portfolios.

He said "it was expected that the shakeup would have come to the satisfaction of the people who have taken to the streets for three months and that a change of the names could have contained a portion of their depression."

It is not known how the new government was formed and why it was called the government of qualifications, said Habib, adding that the shakeup should at least have included highly qualified economists as ministers in the economic sector because it was the economic situation that has caused the current upheaval.

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