Khartoum embraces opposition – but only the friendly kind

A cabinet reshuffle in Khartoum saw 14 posts go to members of the opposition - at first glance a rare sign of President Bashir loosening his grip on power. But in Sudan there’s opposition and there’s opposition, and Bashir is only embracing the people he thinks he can control. By SIMON ALLISON.

There are a lot of people in Sudan who aren’t too happy with the government of President Omar al Bashir. But as in any broad-based opposition movement, there are plenty of different opinions on what the most effective opposition to his regime would be, and also plenty of different opinions as to what and who should replace him. It is these schisms in the opposition movement that Bashir is trying to exploit with the announcement of his new cabinet.

This is the first reshuffle since the secession of South Sudan and change was expected. But the top posts have remained in the control of Bashir’s National Congress Party and most of the faces are the same. It’s in the less important positions Bashir has attempted compromise, of sorts, giving some 14 cabinet posts to opposition figures. These represent a nice cross-section of Sudan’s major opposition areas: the rebels in Darfur, those on the border with South Sudan and the political rather than rebel challengers from Bashir’s stronghold in central Sudan.

But take a closer look, and it becomes clear these opposition movements aren’t the ones posing an actual threat to the government. From Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement and the various factions of the Sudan Liberation Army are not represented. From the south, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement-North is not represented. From central Sudan, the National Umma Party refused to participate. Without these major groupings, it becomes clear that rather than an olive branch to the opposition, the cabinet reshuffle is just a public relations move and Sudan remains as divided as ever. DM

Read more:

  • Sudan’s first cabinet after South’s secession brings little change in the Sudan Tribune.