(Adds details and context)
KHARTOUM, May 14 (Reuters) - Sudan named seven new ministers on Monday as part of a cabinet reshuffle that included changes at the ministries of oil and the appointment of a new foreign minister, state news agency SUNA reported.
The new appointments are the latest of several within a few months that have seen changes to the heads of the military and intelligence and the sacking of Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour.
They come as Sudan faces a bruising economic downturn and sharp currency crisis despite winning relief from decades-old U.S. sanctions last year.
President Omar al-Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since a 1989 Islamist and military-backed coup, has said he will not stand in elections expected in 2020 and appointed a prime minister last year for the first time.
Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, a moderate Islamist lawyer and member of Bashir’s ruling party, will head the foreign ministry, SUNA reported, replacing Ghandour, who was sacked last month following public comments related to foreign currency shortages.
Ahmed served previously as a negotiator on the demarcation of Abyei, a contested border region claimed by Sudan and South Sudan.
Azhari Abdalla, who has served as the head of the government’s Oil Exploration and Production Authority, was appointed oil minister.
Abdalla replaces current oil minister Abdulrahman Othman amid a sharp fuel shortage that has seen long queues at gas stations.
“Changing people will not solve the economic crisis, which requires a change to policies. And the policies are set by the state’s high leadership, not ministers,” said Tayeb Zein Al-Abidine, a professor of political science at the University of Khartoum.
“Economic reform requires cutting government spending and fighting corruption,” he said.
Once an oil exporter, Sudan was forced to begin importing after the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the country’s crude output and its main source of foreign currency. (Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum Additional reporting by Ahmed Tolba in Cairo; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Roche)