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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir named his first vice president and long-time ally Hassan Saleh to the newly created post of prime minister, the ruling party's deputy leader said on Wednesday.
It is the first time Sudan has had a prime minister since Bashir came to power in a 1989 Islamist and military-backed coup. Saleh is the last member of the group of officers that launched the coup to remain at Bashir's side.
"The party leadership meeting chaired by President Bashir approved the nomination of Hassan Saleh as prime minister and his retention of the post of first vice president," National Congress Party Deputy Leader Ibrahim Mahmoud told reporters.
Saleh will be sworn in on Thursday and immediately start negotiations on forming a new cabinet, Mahmoud said.
Sudan's constitution was amended in December to introduce the position of prime minister, a demand of opposition parties that took part in a national dialogue with the government, with the aim of distributing some of the presidency's extensive powers.
Bashir agreed to the proposal but reserved most executive authority for himself. Saleh is now seen as the strongest contender to succeed Bashir if he keeps his promise of not running for re-election in 2020.
Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Janet Lawrence