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Sudan appoints new vice president

December 8, 2013

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Sudan’s ruling party appointed Sunday one of President Omar al-Bashir’s closest confidantes to be his new vice president as part of a leadership shakeup in the country, a top party leader said.

The SUNA state news agency said the National Congress Party appointed ten new ministers, including for the Presidency, Interior and Oil portfolios. The biggest change was the decision to elevate Minister of the Presidency Gen. Bakri Hassan Salih to be the new First Vice President, replacing Ali Osman Taha, the agency said.

Salih is very close to al-Bashir, also a military man. Both took part in the 1989 coup that brought Bashir to power, and Salih ran the security agencies in the years that followed. He was Defense Minister until 2005.

Outgoing First Vice President Ali Osman Taha was a leading member in the National Islamic Front, a movement that has dominated Sudan’s government since 1989. Taha was longtime deputy to the former NIF leader Hassan Turabi, who helped bring Bashir to power in 1989 to set up an Islamist-style government. But Taha took Bashir’s side when he and Turabi fell out in 1999.

Taha also negotiated the 2005 peace agreement that ended Sudan’s civil war and led to the separation of the south to form the new South Sudan in 2011.

Salih’s appointment is to be confirmed by presidential decree, a formal procedure since all the party’s decisions are adopted with the consent of al-Bashir, who is also the party’s leader.

Addressing a gathering in northern Khartoum on Saturday, al-Bashir swore that there were no disputes among the senior government leaders or with Taha. He said he wanted a “second generation” to take part in running the country’s affairs, and that those who speak about disputes were “liars.”

Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on allegations linked to the conflict in Sudan’s western region of Darfur. Sudan was shaken in September by widespread riots over an increase in fuel prices.

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