President Omer al-Bashir Monday reshuffled the cabinet members from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in the National Consensus Government, including the appointment of a new foreign minister and the return of a former presidential aide as interior minister.
According to the decree, the changes didn’t affect the First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Saleh and Prime Minister as it was rumoured in Khartoum.
Also, the new seven ministers and five state minister as well as eight governors, all are known as moderate Islamists or civil society people. They are supposed to remain in post until the presidential elections of 2020 as al-Bashir is expected to run for a new mandate.
Among the federal ministers, the attention was focused on who will be appointed in the prestigious position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, replacing the former Ibrahim Ghandour who negotiated the lift of sanctions on Sudan and worked hard to break the regime’s international isolation.
The decree appointed al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed as a foreign minister. He is a former member of the government team that negotiated the Comprehensive Peace Agreement with South Sudan’s SPLM. He also led the government delegation for the International Court of Arbitration over the disputed area of Abyei in July 2008.
The former presidential assistant Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid has been appointed a minister of interior, a position that he occupied in the past for several years from 2008-2013.
Among the newcomers Salim Ahmed Salim, the former head of National Election Commission as minister of justice.
Azhari Abdel-Gadir Abdalla, the head of the Oil Exploration and Production Authority, has been appointed oil minister.
While the Minister of Minerals, Hashim Ali Salim, is appointed a minister of cabinet affairs tasked with the national dialogue file. However, no minister was appointed at his post for the time being after reports that the human rights defender Midawi Ibrahim declined the post.
The ministers are expected to swear in on Tuesday before the start of the holy month of Ramadan.
The leader of the opposition Sudanese Congress Party Omer al-Digair minimized the ministerial changes saying it does not bring a major shift in the government policies.
"The change does not affect the programme and policies that produced the crises, it is like moving the pieces on the surface of the chess table," he told Sudan Tribune.
He pointed out that the members of the National Congress Party have been "exchanging positions and benefits since 1989 in a tragic circular process, which only increases their insatiable appetite for the monopoly of power, poverty of imagination and lack of vision."
The opposition leader further said that the change didn’t affect the minister of finance despite the economic crisis that hits the country.
At the states levels, the presidential decree changed three governors in Darfur region, including Mohamed Abad Samouh for North Darfur State, Hussein Yassin Abu Sirwal for West Darfur state and Mohamed Ahmed Gad-Elsid Mohamed for Central Darfur state.
Al-Bashir appointed Khalid Hussein Mohamed, as a new governor of Blue Nile State and General Ahmed Ibrahim Mofadal governor of South Kordofan state.