Sudan’s State News Agency Suna has reported that Abdel Rahman Hassan has been named new governor of the Central Bank of Sudan (CBOS) in Khartoum. He will take on the country’s current financial crisis and hard currency shortage, the latest sign of an overhaul of senior posts seen as favouring loyalists of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The economy has been in turmoil since South Sudan seceded in 2011, taking with it about three-quarters of the country’s oil reserves – the main source of government revenues and the dollars needed for food and other vital imports.
Hassan had been head of the state-run Omdurman National Bank since 2006. An Oxford University professor and expert on Sudan, Harry Verhoeven said: “Hassan was not chosen for his strong views or extraordinary competence. He was chosen because he is trusted. “I don’t think he would change all that much. It’s to be seen as part of the general reshuffle in which the president tries to balance a need for new faces and some kind of reform and on other hand a safe pair of hands. He ticks that box very well,” Verhoeven added. Bashir earlier this month named Lieutenant General Bakri Hassan Saleh – a close ally who helped him stage his 1989 coup and crush many rebellions – as first vice president, replacing veteran Islamist Ali Osman Taha.
Analysts said the change showed the desire of Bashir, himself a former army officer, to turn to more trusted allies in the military. The government in September lifted most fuel subsidies to help overcome a budget crisis. The move doubled pump prices overnight and triggered violent protests in which dozens of people were killed and more than 700 people arrested. The central bank devalued the Sudanese pound by 22.6% against the dollar in November, the second such move in just over a year.
The scarcity of dollars had become so bad that the central bank had started using up the general reserves of commercial banks, which are meant to be kept as deposits with the central bank, a financial source has said.