Sudan health minister resigns, says sidelined

Sudan’s health minister said on Tuesday he had quit because members of the north’s dominant party had been taking decisions in the ministry behind his back.

Abdallah Tiya belongs to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), a mostly southern group that fought the north through decades of civil war then joined a coalition government in Khartoum after a 2005 peace deal.

His resignation, a rare step for a Sudanese minister, highlights schisms in Sudan’s Government of National Unity, which will dissolve in July when south Sudan secedes following an independence referendum that was promised in 2005.

SPLM ministers have complained about being sidelined by often more junior members of the north’s dominant National Congress Party (NCP). “Yes, I resigned … Enough is enough. I am not going to continue like this,” Tiya told Reuters.

“There are a lot of things that have happened in the ministry without consultation with me. Nobody is consulting with me … The NCP is trying to undermine all the ministers who do not belong to the party.”

Tiya said the breaking point came when he chose someone to be an undersecretary but found a candidate had already been appointed.

Southern Sudanese overwhelmingly voted to split from the north in the referendum held in January.

Tiya’s exit also underlined political divisions that will remain in the north after the split. He is from the Nuba Mountains, an underdeveloped northern territory where most sided with the SPLM during the war and saw especially fierce fighting.

Leaders from the SPLM’s northern branch, including Tiya, plan to form a separate opposition party in the north after the split. “It is better for me to go back to my people then waste my time in the ministry,” he told Reuters.

The SPLM is due to stand against the NCP in gubernatorial and state assembly elections in the state of Southern Kordofan, which includes the Nuba Mountains, in May.

Senior NCP official Rabie Abdelati denied that his party interfered in government and told Reuters it was the presidency’s job to appoint undersecretaries, not the minister’s.

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