Confrontation looms over cabinet reshuffle between SPLM and Sudan ruling party

By Wasil Ali

October 15, 2007 (Sudan Tribune)

Sudan’s ruling party is poised for a clash with its Southern partner in the government over the list of nominees for cabinet ministers.

The ex-rebel group Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) yesterday submitted a list of new ministers to the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) for endorsement. The NCP has been stalling on approving the list of nominees for the last few months.

Last Thursday the SPLM decided to suspend their participation in the national unity government because of what they describe as the NCP’s failure to fully implement crucial elements of the CPA.

The latest move by the SPLM raised concern that the Comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of civil war between the Arab and Muslim-dominated north and the mainly Christian and animist black southerners may unravel.

A senior SPLM official who spoke to Sudan Tribune last week on condition of anonymity said that the Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir has refused to remove foreign minister Lam Akol as part of the proposed cabinet reshuffle.

The daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper published in London quoted unidentified NCP officials as saying that Al-Bashir is not prepared to accept Dr. Mansour Khalid, the SPLM nominee, to replace Akol as foreign minister under any circumstances.

The veteran diplomat Khalid is the former foreign minister and currently an adviser at Sudanese presidency. As a foreign minister during former President Jaafar Nimeri, Khalid negotiated the first peace agreement that ended the North-South civil war in 1972.

Khalid was one of the earliest and most prominent Northern Sudanese to join SPLM in the early eighties. He was one of the closest confidents to the late SPLM leader Dr. John Garang who was killed in an air crash.

NCP officials said the party is wary of Khalid’s close relations with US officials and his pro-American attitude. They added that these are unfavorable characteristics of a foreign minister who needs to be “objective and unbiased”.

Khalid has built strong relationships with US officials during his tenure as a permanent representative of Sudan at the UN. He is a close friend of former US president George W. Bush. sr.

The NCP officials stressed that the SPLM insistence on nominating Khalid “will only complicate matters and create deadlock in any meetings held between the two sides”.

Last week the governor of Blue Nile State Malik Agar who is also a member of SPLM said that the list of nominees submitted is final and as such they “will not accept any discussions about it”.

They ruling party also accused the former Special Envoy on Sudan for the State Department Roger Winter, who is believed to be in the capital of Southern Sudan for the last week, of masterminding the escalation between the SPLM and NCP.

A state department official was not available for comment on these allegations.

The 2005 peace agreement brokered by the US and other western countries ended two decades of civil war between the Arab and Muslim-dominated north and the mainly Christian and animist black southerners.



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