On March 1, Bakri Hassan Saleh was named prime minister of Sudan, the country’s first since 1989. The move immediately ignited talk of potential scenarios for a leadership transition in a country ruled by the same man since that same year. In an email interview, David Shinn, adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, discusses the appointment’s political implications.
WPR: What does the selection of a prime minister suggest for President Omar al-Bashir’s future?
David Shinn: The selection of Bakri Hassan Saleh as prime minister suggests that the 73-year-old Bashir is looking toward a political transition that will keep the National Congress Party (NCP) in power when his term is over in 2020. Bashir has had five major operations in the past five years, including heart surgery earlier this year. Bashir said he will not seek re-election in 2020. While he has failed to keep this promise in the past, a combination of age and poor health argue in favor of his stepping down in 2020.