Sudan names new central bank chief as inflation soars

Omar al-bashir
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Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir on Sunday named a former finance official as central bank governor, a day after a new cabinet was sworn in tasked with curbing soaring inflation.

Mohamed Khair al-Zubair, an ex-minister of state for finance who already served as central bank governor between 2011 and 2013, was appointed by presidential order, Bashir’s office said.

The bank had been left without a governor since June 16 after its previous chief, Hazem Abdelqader, died of a heart attack while on a visit to Turkey.

The central bank has been grappling with an acute shortage of foreign currency at a time of soaring inflation that touched nearly 68% in August.

The Sudanese currency has plunged, trading on Sunday at 42 pounds to the US dollar on the black market, compared to the official rate of 28.

The central bank has devalued the pound twice against the greenback since January.

Bashir sacked Sudan’s 31-member cabinet last week over its failure to tackle an economic crisis that has deteriorated since the south split from the north in 2011, taking with it about 75% of oil revenues.

On Saturday, a streamlined 21-member government took the oath of office, with Prime Minister Moutaz Mousa Abdallah also assuming the finance portfolio.

The economic crisis has worsened despite Washington lifting a decades-old embargo on the African country last October.

Surging food prices triggered sporadic anti-government protests in January in Khartoum, but the authorities swifty moved in, arresting several activists and opposition leaders.

Despite its lifting of sanctions, the United States has kept Sudan on its list of “state sponsors of terrorism”, a factor which officials say keeps investors away and blocks economic recovery.