Country Risk

Reshuffles increase likelihood of president securing another term and expanding influence of PM

21 September 2018

New Sudanese Prime Minister Moataz Moussa attending, as then-water minister, an international meeting in Khartoum, Sudan, on 22 July 2015. Source: Ebrahim Hamid/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Key Points

  • Sudanese President Bashir appointed his cousin, Moataz Moussa, as prime minister and streamlined government functions in the reshuffle.
  • The cabinet reshuffle strengthens Bashir’s prospects of extending his presidential term.
  • The reshuffle puts Prime Minister Moussa at the centre of patronage networks, including in power generation, agriculture, and land allocation.


Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on 18 September reshuffled the Sudan Armed Forces’ command, and on 16 September authorised a cabinet reshuffle in which the functions of the first vice-president and prime minister were separated.

The main changes in the reshuffle of the Sudanese Armed Forces’ (SAF) command involved the appointment of Lieutenant-General Hashim Abdel-Mutalab Ahmed Babikir as first lieutenant-general and the SAF’s general inspector, and the appointment of Lieutenant-General Mustafa Mohamed Mustafa as director of Military Intelligence. In the cabinet reshuffle, Bashir appointed a new minister of the interior, Ahmed al-Balal, who formerly served as minister of information, and he removed Hassabo Mohammed Abdel-Rahman as second vice-president, replacing him with North Darfur’s ex-governor, Osman Yousef Kibi.

The removal of long-serving senior figures within the security establishment is notable and indicates dissent against Bashir’s re-election bid. The side-lining of such figures further indicates Bashir’s effort to consolidate his authority and surround himself with loyalists to reduce the likelihood of a military coup, but also probably to guarantee another presidential term and, in extremis, to be in a strong position to handpick a successor of choice.

The appointment of Babikir as first lieutenant-general and the SAF’s general inspector will probably guarantee support for the SAF from Berti ethnic groups. Ensuring senior SAF representation of both Bertis and Arabs in the armed forces is likely to reduce the likelihood of any national-level co-ordination between cohesive fighting forces, making a successful coup against Bashir even less likely.

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