Sudan Names New Peace, Information Ministers

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             [Sudanese President, Al-Bashir. Read
              photo caption below.]

Sudan Names New Peace, Information Ministers

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has named a new ministerial-level peace adviser and a new minister of information and communications in a minor Cabinet reshuffle, state television reported on Thursday.

According to the television news, Bashir appointed Mahdi Ibrahim as the new Minister of Information and Communication, replacing Ghazi Salah al-Din, who becomes the Presidential Adviser on Peace Affairs, which is a ministerial position.

In the same decree, Bashir named Gutbi Mahdi as the Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs, the ministerial-level post previously occupied by Mahdi Ibrahim.

Political observers say the appointments reflect the government's desire to put together a peace team in preparation for a resumption of peace talks with the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army. No date has been fixed yet for a dialogue.

The ministers in charge of the peace process were dismissed last month for allegedly quarrelling with each other.

Gutbi was Minister of Social Planning until last February, when he was dropped from the Cabinet in a reshuffle.

Salah al-Din has in the past taken part in several rounds of peace talks with the SPLA, which has been fighting since 1983 for greater autonomy for Sudan's mainly Christian or animist south, against the Islamist government in Khartoum

Lt-Gen Umar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir came to power in 1989 after a military coup backed by the National Islamic Front. He was appointed president in 1993 by the Revolution Command Council. In 1996 he was elected to a five-year term as president. He has the power to appoint the cabinet. The legislative body is the National Assembly, which has 400 seats.


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