interview: Sudan Cabinet Affairs Minister

By: Mohammed Osman

KHARTOUM,(Sudanow)- In recognition of the leading role by the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs in the broad base government as a link between the executive body and the political and legislative organs and its part in following up implementation of the State’s decisions and comprehensive national strategies and administrative reform plans, Sudanow conducted the following interview with Ahmed Saad Omar, the Cabinet Affairs Minister and leading official of the mainstream Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for acquaintance with his Ministry’s programmes and accomplishments in addition to assessment of the political partnership between the DUP and the National Congress Party (NCP):-


sudanow.info.sd: How does the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs take the electronic government and to what extent is the interaction between this Ministry and the other ministries of the center and states?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR: The Council of Ministers sponsors and pushes forward efforts for its establishment in regulations and equipment through the specialized bodies. So, the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs is not responsible for implementation of this project which is undertaken by several bodies topped by the National Information Council of the Ministry of Science and Communications. Moreover, there are practical implementations steps being made by the Civil Register, the traffic administration, the banking technological systems, the electric-power systems, the higher education admission offices, the hypothetical library and other bodies which are established in an accelerated manner and which together form a firm foundation for the aspired electronic government.



sudanow.info.sd: How far is the Council of Ministers committed to the strategic method of formulating plans and preparing reports?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-The Council of Ministers has been committed to the strategic planning method since preparation of the comprehensive national strategy of 1992-2002. The quarter-centennial national strategy of 2007-2031 provided evidence of the firm policy as that strategy was slit into five-year plans. The first five-year plan (2007-2011) has been implemented and the second five-year plan (2012-2016) is currently in effect. During this period, the method of preparing the annual plans and programmes has been developed and the reports have been developed from descriptive to analytical reports based on assessment indicatives. We have applied scientific indicatives deduced as part of the packages supportive of the decision-making developed by the Council of Ministers Secretariat in integration of the policies, information, indicatives and standards and assessment systems.



sudanow.info.sd: How far does implementation of the Cabinet decision go and what are the mechanisms for implementation and response follow-up?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-Implementation of all decisions of the Council of Ministers is mandatory

In a close follow-up by the Cabinet General Secretariat. If it turned out that one decision was not implemented or could not be implemented for objective reasons that decision would be subject to revision or amendment. It is true that implementation of some decisions is delayed for objective reasons related to availability and provision of resources as required while the nature of some of those decisions needs a longer time for implementation.



sudanow.info.sd: Many ministries, corporations and institutions break the rules set by the Council of Ministers in relation to concluding contracts, organizational structures and formation of boards of directors. How does the Cabinet deal with such situations?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-Such violations are expected as has been revealed by the recent Auditor General’s report but they are not as grave or numerous as is being circulated. Nevertheless, the law must be respected and a single case calls for accountability. The Council of Ministers has ordered cessation of all contracting operations and has instructed the Ministry of Finance not to pay any contractors dues before approval by the Council of Ministers while the internal auditors in the State departments monitor such practices.



sudanow.info.sd: What accomplishments has the government achieved after the last reshuffle in which you have taken up the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-The accomplishments are numerous, the most important of which were the political stability and expansion in freedoms. Another most important achievement was the economic stability which was made through the three-year programme without which the economic situation could have worsened after the secession of South Sudan. The government is presently executing numerous projects for stepping up the agricultural and industrial production in addition to carrying on with construction of roads and infrastructures in support of the development.


sudanow.info.sd: The role of the Cabinet’s General Secretariat, as an executive body, is enhancing performance and establishing and cementing a federal rule based on effective and competent organs that aim at building a modern state that copes with the contemporary demands. How does the Council of Ministers view this role?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-The General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, since its establishment in 1954, has always been taking a leading position in the process of change. The General Secretariat has helped develop the first method for formulation of plans as well as the first method for preparation of reports on performance in a scientific and objective way. It was the General Secretariat that has introduced the digital system by establishing a national information network through which data, information and reports flow between the individual ministries and the Council of Ministers. The Secretariat has thus stopped over the past several years dealing with the ministries in paperwork and switched to the network which has now become the mainstream of exchanging the formal correspondence.


sudanow.info.sd: It is being circulated that the Council of Ministers role of monitoring and following up implementation of the decisions and programmes of the national strategy and the programmes of administrative reform is poor. How do you response?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-This is not true. The Council of Ministers monitors and straightens, through its various mechanisms, the performance of the units of the executive body, starting with approval of their plans. The Council also reviews details of implementation of the plans and projects of the technical committees and the ministerial sectors. It receives quality reports on some aspects of the strategy and subjects them to protracted discussion for determination of the aspects of strength and weakness before making decisions and issuing directives for pushing the performance forward.


sudanow.info.sd: What about the Council’s information role for spotlighting its activities and promoting its policies and decisions to the public opinion?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-The information plays an important role in guiding the performance as well as elucidating the facts. For this reason, the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs attaches particular importance on the information. We have continuously underlined the importance of providing the media with the facts and details of the performance, because we believe that the media is a ruling partner and that keeping the media in the dark causes speculation that is often more harmful than useful.

And being aware of the importance of the media, the General Secretariat established an information center and through it, the Secretariat provided the ministers, governors of the states and guest with the chance to address the media.

Moreover, the appointment of an official spokesman, who is the Council’s Secretary-General, has added a professional element for assessment as this spokesman, who is the doyen of the civil service, presents a press release at the end of each session of the Council of Ministers containing much details on the issues which were discussed by the Council. The spokesman often invites minister and governors to shed further light on the presented issues.



sudanow.info.sd: What s the consultancy role being played by the Council of Ministers for taking decisions?

MINISTER:AHMED SAAD OMAR:-Through its perusal of the national strategy, the five-year plan and the sectoral strategies, the General Secretariat determines the important issues and asks the concerned ministries to submit reports on them. Sometimes, it determines the aspects to be covered by the reports. It may request reports by research or scientific institutions for comparison. These reports are reviewed and, after satisfaction with their preparation, the Secretariat submits them to Council of Ministers. This effort has helped the Council of Ministers to improve the performance through betterment of the plans and reports submitted to it.

The duties of the General Secretariat include provision of information and preparation of studies and research for early warning of crises and bottlenecks and proposing ways and means to ward them off and finalizing the issues before submitting them to the Council of Ministers.


sudanow.info.sd: How does the General Secretariat undertake these duties and responsibilities?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-First, the Secretariat possesses numerous databases on agricultural and industrial production, animal resources, and health and education services beside the infrastructural services of roads, electricity and water, etc. It continually updates the databases and, through this process, it senses the imminent crises and early warning of the weak aspects of the government performance. The media may not be aware of these efforts because the Secretariat action is characterized by patience and investigation in addition to working with the ministries and states to avert the negative results before occurrence and to remedy them if they eventually occur.


sudanow.info.sd: The Council of Ministers is a liaison between the executive organ leadership and the political and legislative bodies. Yet some people believe that those bodies are isolated islands, having no coordination between them. What do you think?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-The coordination between the executive and the national legislature (National Assembly and States Council) has become a duty of the Council of Ministers after the recent reshuffle. We have noted that the parliamentarians are satisfied and appreciative of our efforts. The Council of Ministers is a partner in legislation as the legislative initiatives start from it in the form of bills to be lodged with either the National Assembly or States Council. I personally follow up the debate on the bill and I make sure that the concerned ministers would also b preset during the parliamentary debate. We have achieved a remarkable success and the presence and participation of the ministers in the debates provided them with a chance of getting familiarized with many aspects of the issues under discussion. Following passage of resolutions and recommendations by the parliament on the plans, reports and urgent questions, we follow up implementation of the resolutions and recommendations, through the concerned department of the General Secretariat. We believe the relationship between the two organs is quite satisfactory.



sudanow.info.sd: What is the role played by the Council of Ministers with regards to following up implementation of the numerous credits, grants and partnerships offered to the State?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-The credits and grants are offered for execution of certain projects with feasibility and financial studies. Those projects are subject to direct supervision by the Ministry of Finance along with the concerned ministry or state. The Council of Ministers follows up and monitors those projects through the monitoring mechanisms we have earlier mentioned.


sudanow.info.sd: The basic tasks of the Council of Ministers include monitoring the political, media and public opinion reactions to the various issues relevant to performance of the executive body and preparing a report on those reactions. What is happening on this issue?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-There is a department within the General Secretariat that is concerned with monitoring the political and media reactions to the government performance. This department follows up all the raised negative aspects as well as the reactions by the concerned ministries and the position will be either to acknowledge those negative aspects of performance, confront and address them or correct the information with the newspaper that has raised the issue.

As regards the public opinion polls, the General Secretariat has gone far in this respect, enabling the leadership to be acquainted with the public opinion and to either correct the mistakes or furnish the public with the correct facts on the raised issue for a better understanding of the questions the public is not aware of.


sudanow.info.sd: How do you view your partnership with the National Congress Party (NCP) and what accomplishments have this partnership achieved?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-The agreement that was reached by the two parties was based on clear foundations for the interest of the country and the people. The most important accomplishment was the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) which has provided a term of reference for resolving the Darfur crisis. We consider it a successful experience of cooperation and coordination for the interest of the country.


sudanow.info.sd: How do you view the current efforts for a political and national dialogue and taking up by Presidential Assistant Abdul Rahman al-Mahdi of the responsibility of contacting the political parties for this purpose?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-We welcome any dialogue with the political parties aimed at resolving the Sudan’s problems that hinder the country’s security, stability, progress and development.



sudanow.info.sd: What is your party’s opinion on the hostile activities against the State and the targeting by the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) of the people and their property?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-We condemn in the strongest terms any action that targets the people and we point out that the door of dialogue will remain open to the armed movements for resolving all issues of concern to the people.


sudanow.info.sd: Are you playing any effort for reuniting the several factions that split from your mainstream party in the context of achieving unity of all Sudanese parties around the national goals?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-We are for the unity of the party and, for this reason, Mawlana Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani has called upon all those who have left the party to return for working together for rebuilding a powerful DUP that can resolve all problems of the Sudan and contribute to its stability, security, development and unity.


sudanow.info.sd: Is your DUP satisfied with the political and executive process of the State?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-Yes, we are satisfied with the experience we have had and we look forward to a further joint action for the stability and development of the Sudan and for urging investors to invest in Sudan.


sudanow.info.sd: What effort is your party playing for unification of the Sudanese vision with regard to laying down a constitution that is expressive of the wishes of the Sudanese people?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-The DUP has formed a committee for the constitution that has begun dialogue with the other political parties for unification of a Sudanese vision for a Sudanese constitution expressive of the wishes and aspirations of the people of the Sudan.


SUDANOW.INFO: How do you view the future of the Sudan with regard to the economic, social and service aspects?

MINISTER: AHMED SAAD OMAR:-The Sudan s a promising country with rich resources, both explored and unexplored. When the war in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordufan is over, peace, stability, development, reconstruction and progress will prevail in all parts of the country.

Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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