Sudan's hard-won transition to civilian rule fell further behind schedule Sunday, days after the new prime minister delayed the formation of the first government since veteran leader Omar al-Bashir was ousted.
Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, a seasoned UN economist who faces the daunting task of rescuing his country's moribund economy, was supposed to unveil a cabinet on Wednesday under a post-Bashir roadmap.
But he is still considering the candidates, causing a knock-on delay to the first meeting between the government and the joint civilian-military ruling body overseeing the transition which was supposed to have been held on Sunday.
Hamdok, who took the oath on August 21, only received the nominees list from the Forces for Freedom and Change umbrella protest group on Tuesday and has been mulling the candidates since then.
"The FFC was late in submitting the list of nominees to the PM which has ultimately delayed the unveiling of cabinet," protest leader Amjed Farid told AFP.
Ibrahim al-Amin, another protest leader, said the delay "is entirely the responsibility of the FFC" as there were "differences" within the group over the candidates.
On Sunday, the FFC said it held "deep and constructive discussions" with Hamdok the day before about the candidates of the transitional cabinet. The premier has not publicly commented on the delay.
Sudan swore in a "sovereign council", a joint civilian-military ruling body, to guide the country through a three-year transitional period nearly two weeks ago.
It is the result of a power-sharing deal formally signed on August 17 between the FFC and the military generals who seized power after ousting Bashir in April.
The deal stipulates a legislative body should be formed within 90 days of its signing.
The legislature should include no more than 300 members, with 201 seats allotted to the FFC.
Under the deal, the cabinet should be largely selected by the premier. Only the interior and defence ministers will be chosen by the military members of Sudan's ruling body.
Amin said the delay in announcing the cabinet would "certainly have a negative impact" by slowing down the transition. It is not the first hurdle thrown up in Sudan's path out of decades of authoritarianism.
The line-up of Sudan's 11-member sovereign council was held up for two days over differences within the opposition camp, before it was finally revealed on August 21.
Hamdok, who built a career in continental and international organisations, most recently as deputy executive secretary of the UN's Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, last week confirmed receiving a list of 49 candidates for 14 ministries.
A source close to the premier told AFP on Sunday that "consultations are still under way for the final list."
Hamdok, who was nominated by the protest movement, had previously said he would be choosing technocrats based on their "competence" to lead Sudan through formidable challenges that also include ending internal conflicts.
Rebel groups from marginalised regions including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan state waged long wars against Bashir's forces. Sudan's power-sharing deal aims to forge peace with armed groups.
On Saturday, four rebel groups from Darfur said they will be "negotiating with transitional authorities with a unified vision," without elaborating.
Hamdok's cabinet will also be expected to fight corruption and dismantle the long-entrenched Islamist deep state created under Bashir's 30-year rule. Bashir was taken to Kober prison in Khartoum shortly after his ouster. The former president was charged on Saturday with illegal acquisition and use of foreign funds.