A 49-year-old physician was named prime minister of a transitional civilian Cabinet today and served notice that Sudan's close relations with the United States would be "reviewed" in an overall foreign policy reappraisal.
Dr. Gizzuli Daffa-Allah, head of the doctors' association prominent in the demonstrations that helped end Jaafar Nimeri's 16-year rule, also told reporters that Sudan's previously excellent relations with Egypt might cool.
Speaking only hours before he was nominated, the prime minister also said that Sudan's relationship with the International Monetary Fund would be "closely scrutinized."
Many critics of the IMF here have blamed higher food and gasoline prices on the financial institution's austerity measures aimed at steering this technically bankrupt nation back toward solvency.
The repeatedly delayed civilian government list was read this evening by Gen. Abdel Rahman Sawar-Dhahab, the chairman of the transitional military council that seized power on April 6 while Nimeri was out of the country.
The announcement of the Cabinet apparently was delayed by last-minute wrangling among civilians that prevented agreement on a choice for justice minister.
Sources said the 15-man military council announced the incomplete list for fear that any further delay would undermine public confidence in a country with a ruined economy, a massive influx of refugees from neighboring countries, drought and famine and civil war in the south.
The Justice Ministry is considered important since it is responsible for the promised revision of Nimeri's controversial imposition of sharia, or Islamic law not just on the Moslem north but also in the Christian and animist south.
In a token gesture to this predominantly Moslem country's southern minorities, southerner Samuel Aru Bol was named deputy prime minister as well as irrigation minister. But his portfolio and those of two other southerners named ministers of civil service and transportation were considered relatively minor.
As expected, two serving officers, Col. Osman Abdallah Mohammed and police Gen. Abbas Medani, received the defense and interior portfolios.
The composition of the transitional body, which observers here said was chosen for its lack of ties to Nimeri's rule, was considered an improvement over a list rejected by the military council a week ago.
In the otherwise inexperienced government, the choices of foreign and finance ministers were considered exceptions. Finance Minister-designate Awad Karim Abdel-Magid is a former governor of the Bank of Sudan. He is widely viewed as having the ability to deal with the financial and economic difficulties that have saddled Africa's largest country.
Ibrahim Taha Ayub, the new foreign minister, is a career diplomat who until Nimeri's overthrow was Sudanese ambassador in neighboring Kenya. He will be entrusted with the transitional team's desire to restructure Sudan's pro-West and especially pro-American foreign policy along more nonaligned lines and to improve relations with Libya and Ethiopia in hopes of ending the southern insurrection.
Both Sawar-Dhahab and Daffa-Allah reiterated earlier promises to "prepare democratic elections" within a year, deal with the financial crisis and try to arrange negotiations with John Garang, the U.S.-educated former Army colonel who is leading the two-year-old rebellion.
Daffa-Allah hailed Garang as a "true patriot" who had "spoken for us all" in opposing Nimeri and now "must be included" since the rebellion "cannot be solved militarily." So far Garang has turned down repeatedly proffered negotiations until the military council resigns. Daffa-Allah told reporters he hoped that this was "not his last word."
Some members of the civilian Cabinet have indicated that they hope to get around what they believe is Garang's opening bargaining position by conducting any negotiations instead of the military.
In remarks that observers here said signaled an end to the honeymoon with Egypt, the prime minister said in dealing with Cairo that his government would "distinguish between regimes and peoples" and that the two countries' "historic links" went beyond "regimes and leaders." Egypt has a mutual defense pact with Sudan, reflecting Cairo's age-old interest in preserving good relations with the country that shares the vital waters of the Nile.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had been a close ally of Nimeri. Daffa-Allah said "our foreign policy has to be reappraised, because we are going to review our relations with the United States and other countries as well."
He added, however: "We have no animosity toward any country, and that includes the United States."
Some sources close to Cabinet members interpreted that to mean that the new Sudanese government planned to overlook Washington's past support for Nimeri.
Many Sudanese hold the United States responsible for propping up Nimeri to the bitter end. They have been vocal in their condemnation of the U.S. role in helping airlift Ethiopian Jews from Sudan to Israel this spring. They also have criticized Nimeri's policy of allowing the U.S. military to conduct maneuvers here as part of a training program for the Rapid Deployment Force to protect the oil-rich countries of the Persian Gulf.