Sudan announces new Cabinet amid protests

CAIRO — Sudan's prime minister on Wednesday announced a new Cabinet packed with supporters of President Omar al-Bashir, who is digging in after nearly three months of protests against his long rule.

Al-Bashir disbanded the government last month and declared a state of emergency. Sudan has been gripped by nationwide protests since Dec. 19, and opposition parties and professional unions have called on al-Bashir to step down after three decades in power.

Mohammed Taher Eyla, who al-Bashir tapped to form the new government, kept the defense and foreign ministers in place. Gen. Awad Mohammed Ibn Auf, the defense minister, was named vice president last month. Activists say most of the new ministers belong to the ruling National Congress party.

A Sudanese appeals court meanwhile overturned a sentence of flogging and imprisonment against nine women who took part in anti-government protests, an opposition group said Wednesday.

The Democratic Lawyers Alliance said the court ordered their release Tuesday.

The women were arrested Saturday and an emergency court in the capital, Khartoum, sentenced them to a month in prison and 20 lashes each.

The court later waived the flogging amid pressure from families of the women, who rallied outside the courthouse on Saturday.

The lawyers' alliance is part of an umbrella organization that has spearheaded the protests across Sudan demanding al-Bashir's ouster. The emergency courts were set up to investigate violations under the state of emergency.

Al-Bashir has banned unauthorized public gatherings and granted sweeping powers to the police since imposing a state of emergency last month, and security forces have used tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition and batons against demonstrators.

Activists say at least 57 people have been killed in the protests. The government's latest tally stands at 31 killed, including police officers, but figures have not been updated in weeks.

Al-Bashir, who seized power in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989, says he plans to seek a new term in next year's elections.

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