Country Risk

Reshuffle strengthens Sudanese president’s prospects of extending term but emerging protests in northeast unlikely to damage infrastructure

17 May 2018
Sudanese officials attend President Omar al-Bashir’s speech to members of parliament on 2 April 2018 in the capital Khartoum.

Key Points

  • Prime Minister and First-Vice President Major-General Bakri Saleh remained in his position and continues to represent President Omar al-Bashir’s most likely successor in the event his health deteriorates this year. However, if he is removed, then this would strengthen a rival coalition that supports former intelligence chief Nafie Ali Nafie.
  • Nonetheless, Bashir will probably conduct a successful constitutional referendum in late 2018 that removes restrictions on presidential term limits, allowing him to seek re-election in 2020.
  • Preparations for the referendum are likely to increase the willingness of opposition supporters to co-ordinate and stage protests in northeastern Sudan, but anti-government militants would lack the capability to resume the targeting of important infrastructure such as the oil export pipeline.


President Omar al-Bashir on 14 May 2018 reshuffled his cabinet, appointing seven new ministers. The changes will probably reduce opposition towards his likely re-election bid in 2020, which would be facilitated by a constitutional referendum that removes restrictions on presidential term limits.

President Omar al-Bashir on 14 May appointed seven new cabinet ministers. The two most significant developments were First-Vice President and Prime Minister Major-General Bakri Saleh retaining both of his positions and Major-General Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid’s appointment as interior minister. Hamid was interior minister from February 2008 to June 2014, and subsequently the president’s assistant focusing on agricultural rehabilitation in the northeastern Kassala state. Hamid was also Kassala state governor from 2006 to 2008.

The reshuffle will consolidate support within the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) for Bashir’s re-election in 2020. This re-election requires a constitutional referendum to remove term limits. Bashir’s re-election strategy was indicated on 18 December 2017, when committees in several regional states were launched in support of changing the constitution.

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