February 27, 2018 / 12:54 PM / 18 days ago

Sudan replaces army chief in security reshuffle

KHARTOUM, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir replaced the head of the army on Tuesday in a further shake-up of the country’s security establishment.

Kamal Abdalmarouf takes over as army chief following the removal of Emad al-Din Adawi, according to an army spokesman who also announced a series of senior appointments in the armed forces. He said the changes were routine.

Earlier this month, Bashir replaced his head of security, reinstating Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, also known as Salah Gosh, as head of the National Intelligence and Security Service. He had helped initiate dialogue with the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Relations between Sudan and the United States have improved under President Donald Trump. Trump last year lifted sanctions against Sudan, saying it had made progress fighting terrorism and easing humanitarian distress.

But he kept Sudan on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, which carries a ban on weapons sales and restrictions on U.S. aid, according to U.S. officials.

Gosh’s appointment was followed by an announcement that more than 80 political prisoners would be released. They were arrested last month after violent protests against high prices and harsh economic conditions.

After Washington announced an end to sanctions after 20 years, the International Monetary Fund urged Sudan to float its currency among measures to help its economy recover.

Sudan chose instead to devalue its currency in January and cut wheat subsidies, sending the pound plummeting on the black market. Bread prices doubled, leading to demonstrations.

Sudan’s economy has struggled since the south seceded in 2011, taking with it most oil output.

Bashir has remained in power for more than a quarter of a century, weathering rebellions, economic crisis and an indictment by the International Criminal Court on suspicion of having orchestrated war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Giles Elgood, Editing by William Maclean

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