Sudan plans cabinet reshuffle after fuel price protests

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Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir gestures as he gives an address at the opening of the eighth session of Parliament in Khartoum October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

CAIRO (Reuters) - Sudan's government will have a major cabinet reshuffle in the next two weeks, its first vice president said on Wednesday, a move apparently aimed at appeasing protesters after fuel price increases provoked the country's worst unrest in years.

The government cut fuel subsidies to ease a financial crunch aggravated by the secession of oil-producing South Sudan in 2011. Pump prices doubled overnight and triggered violent protests in which dozens of people were killed and more than 700 people arrested.

"The cabinet reshuffle is in its final stage," First Vice President Ali Osman Taha told Al Jazeera television.

"There will be changes in the government and political bodies within the next two weeks," he said, adding that the "change will be a big one".

The South's departure deprived Khartoum of three-quarters of the crude oil output it relied on for state revenues and foreign currency needed to import food.

Rights groups and some diplomats said up to 150 people died when security services in the vast northeast African state fired on protesters. The government put the toll at 34 dead and denied shooting any protesters, whom it dismissed as "vandals".

On Sunday, 35 people appeared in a Khartoum court accused of vandalism over their role in the disturbances.