Appointment of veteran economist signals intention to address Sudan’s chronic economic problems.
Prominent economist Abdalla Hamdok has been sworn in as Sudan’s new prime minister, leading the country’s transitional cabinet months after a mass protest movement forced the military removal of long-time authoritarian President Omar al-Bashir.
Hamdok’s formal appointment on Wednesday came hours after the swearing-in of military and civilian members of Sudan’s newly formed ruling body in the capital, Khartoum.
Comprising of six civilians and five members of the armed forces, the sovereign council is to rule the country for a little over three years until elections can be held.
Last week, following lengthy negotiations with the Transitional Military Council that ruled Sudan since seizing power from al-Bashir in April, the main opposition alliance known as the Forces of Freedom and Change nominated Hamdok to serve as prime minister in the country’s transitional government.
The new prime minister vowed to work towards ending the country’s economic crisis and establishing peace.
“I think with the right vision, with the right policies, we will be able to address this economic crisis,” Hamdok said after the swearing-in ceremony.
“We will have a plan that will address the immediate challenges through our recovery program, addressing the felt need by the people: issues of inflation, availability of commodities, wheat, fuel, medicine and all that.”
Hamdok has 21 days to name a 20-member cabinet, excluding the defence and interior ministers. Those posts will be appointed by the military members of the sovereign council.
Born in 1956 in south-central Kordofan province, Hamdok has more than 30 years of experience as an economist and senior policy analyst specialising in economic development across Africa.
He holds a bachelor of science from the University of Khartoum and a doctorate in economic studies from the University of Manchester in the UK.
From 1981 to 1987, he was a senior official at Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, before taking on a number of leadership roles at several different institutions including the African Development Bank and the International Labour Organization.
He last served as deputy executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, a post he held since November 2011.
Focus on ailing economy
Hamdok’s appointment as prime minister signals the new Sudanese leadership’s intention to address a chronic financial crisis that triggered the mass anti-government rallies that led to al-Bashir’s toppling in April.
In his new role, Hamdok will be tasked to deal with Sudan’s mounting economic problems, including high inflation and unemployment after decades of poor governance.
His biggest challenge would be integrating his country into the international economy after 20 years of crippling United States trade sanctions.
Even though the trade embargo was lifted in 2017, Sudan remains on a US list of state sponsors of terrorism, which makes it ineligible for much-needed debt relief and funding from global institutions and limits potential foreign investment.
Analysts have said that Hamdok’s experience and extensive connections in international bodies might help get Sudan removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism and enable it to access financing from the IMF and the World Bank.
“We wish Dr Abdalla Hamdok success in one of the hardest periods in the history of our country and people, a period that the revolutionary Sudanese people are looking forward to and observing with hopefulness,” the Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded the protests against al-Bashir, said in a statement last week.