Sudan gropes to form transitional government
More than a week after a popularly backed military coup overthrew former President Jaafar Nimeiry, Sudan is groping to form a transitional government. In a news conference Monday, the new leader, Gen. Abdel-Rahman Swareddahab, said he would be willing to incorporate into his government a representative of a rebel faction from the south.Skip to next paragraph
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General Swareddahab said it was his understanding that one of the Cabinet seats being reserved for the Sudanese south was being offered to the Sudanese People's Liberation Army. The SPLA, under the leadership of Col. John Garang, has been conducting a guerrilla war in the south for the past two years.
Swareddahab added that there is still no decision whether the new military rulers will ``form a government by representing all the political parties or perhaps agree on neutral government.''
Civilians in Sudan are persisting in their efforts to form an administrative cabinet to function alongside the new 15-man military council.
Since the April 6 coup, members of the military council, which will retain veto powers during a transitional government expected to last 12 months, have been meeting constantly with trade union and political leaders.
However, a divergence in views on the composition of the Cabinet has slowed progress. Most of the 80-odd unions now registered with the Allied National Forces for National Salvation, the umbrella organization of unions and political parties, have been pushing for a transitional government of highly qualified technocrats. These, union spokesmen say, should remain neutral and be without party affiliations or ties with the previous regime.
The politicians, on the other hand, including members of the communist party and a faction of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been clamoring for inclusion. But many of the professional and educated elite feel that bringing in the politicians at this stage is a luxury the country cannot afford. The fear is that during the interim period the politicians will act in the interests of their parties rather than in those of the nation.
So far, the council appears to have agreed to the formation of a 15-man, largely civilian cabinet. Only the Defense Ministry would remain in the hands of the military with the Interior portfolio to be agreed upon by both the military and the police.
All other ministerial posts, including that of prime minister, would be civilian. Three posts would be given to representatives of the south. These would be decided upon by the southerners themselves.
Added to concerns about the final shape of the new government by those involved in the decision process are equally serious concerns about its eventual foreign policy.
In Monday's news conference, Swareddahab said he wanted improved relations with the Soviet Union. ``We have sent a message to the [leader] of the USSR to say that we would like to see our relations be far better than under the past regime,'' he said. ``To these steps we are receiving a positive response.''
Meanwhile, both Sudanese and Western sources point out that the ``new'' Sudan has much to gain from improved ties with the African and Arab world.