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Sudan - Government

Sudan's ruling generals and protest leaders signed a constitutional declaration 04 August 2019 that paved the way for a transition to civilian rule, a hard-fought agreement that came after a long period of negotiations following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir in the wake of mass protests. General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), and Ahmed Rabie, a protest leader, signed the declaration at a ceremony in the capital, Khartoum, that was attended by African Union and Ethiopian mediators. The document builds on a power-sharing deal agreed to last month and provides for a joint civilian-military ruling body to oversee the formation of a transitional civilian government and parliament to govern for a period of a little more than three years until elections can be held.

The new agreement entails:

  • The transitional period will last for 36 months from the day of the signing of the constitutional declaration.
  • There will be a sovereign council, which will oversee the creation of a council of ministers and a legislative council.
  • The sovereign council will be an 11-member governing body, which will rule the country for just over three years. The body will be composed of five military personnel chosen by the TMC and five civilians selected by the FFC. The 11th member will be a civilian chosen by consensus between the two parties.
  • The sovereign council will be headed by a military general during the first 21 months, followed by a civilian for the remaining 18 months.
  • The FFC will appoint the prime minister.
  • The prime minister will name a cabinet of 20 ministers from a list of nominees presented by the FFC, excluding the interior and defence ministers. The latter pair will be appointed by the military members on the sovereign council.
  • Legal action cannot be taken against members of the three councils without permission from the legislative council. The decision to lift immunity would require the approval of a majority of legislators.
  • The legislative council will be independent. Its members cannot exceed 300 people, and at least 40 percent of the seats will be reserved for women.
  • The FFC will appoint 67 percent of the legislative council's members, while other political groups that are not associated with al-Bashir will select the rest.
  • Sudan's armed forces and its paramilitary Rapid Support Forces will be led by the commander of the armed forces, who is also the head of the sovereign council.
  • The council of ministers may ask the sovereign council to announce a state of national emergency if the unity and safety of the country are at risk. Such a request must be presented to the legislative council within 15 days, and will become invalid if the assembly fails to approve it.

New policies will be developed over the next six months in consultation with armed groups in various regions of the country to achieve comprehensive and lasting peace.

The constitutional declaration also contains a chapter on rights and freedoms for Sudanese citizens. It says:

  • Everyone is equal before the law.
  • No one shall be arbitrarily arrested unless for reasons stipulated by law.
  • No one shall be subject to torture, humiliation, or ill-treatment.
  • The state will protect the social, civil, political, cultural, and economic rights of women, which shall be equal to those of men.
  • Everyone has the right to a fair trial; the accused is innocent until proven guilty in accordance with the law.
  • Every citizen has the right to express themselves freely without limitations, and has the right to receive or publish information and access the media in accordance with the law.
  • Every citizen has the right to access the internet in accordance with the law.
  • Everyone has the right to peaceful assembly and the right to create and/or join political parties, NGOs, syndicates, and professional unions.

A new prime minister, appointed by the main opposition coalition, the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), was expected to be named on August 20, The prime minister was tasked to form the government in consultation with the FFC. However, the defence and the interior ministers were appointed by the military council. The cabinet, which would be named on August 28, and the ruling council would meet together on September 1,

A revised constitution was part of negotiated efforts in 2019 between the military and protest groups to form a joint military-civilian council before elections. The military ousted President Omar Bashir on 11 April 2019 and declared a Transitional Military Council was in control for up to two years before elections. Sudanís protesters had been camped-out at the Defense Ministry since April 6, demanding a return to civilian rule after three decades under al-Bashir. Sudanís demonstrations erupted in December 2018 over the high price of bread and fuel, then quickly morphed into calls for Bashir to step down.

Sudanís ruling Transitional Military Council said it will publish its own suggested constitutional draft after disagreeing with some points in the opposition's draft. But protesters remain skeptical. Sudanís Transitional Military Council was to publish its own draft constitution, after disagreeing with parts of one proposed by an alliance of activists and opposition groups. Spokesman for the TMC Shams El-Din Kabashi at a news conference 05 May 2019 said while there was some dispute, there was still room for negotiation. He said, "for us it's a good draft, it has many points we agree on it. With them (protesters), there are a lot of points of disagreement. And that can be handled with negotiations between us and them."

The Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces alliance sent the draft on 02 May 2019 to the military. The military council agreed with opposition groups to form a joint council to lead a two-year transition period to elections. But, the two sides disagreed about which should have a majority on the council Ė the military or civilians. But protesters said that the TMC doesnít understand that its role is to deliver power. Instead, itís starting to act like a real transitional government. The TMC was speaking about enacting laws while the constitution is disabled.

Sudan's ruling generals and protest leaders reached an agreement on the disputed issue of a new governing body on 05 July 2019, in a breakthrough power sharing accord aimed at ending the country's months-long political crisis. "The two sides agreed on establishing a sovereign council with a rotating military and civilian (presidency) for a period of three years or little more," African Union mediator Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt told reporters.

There was also agreement on forming a sovereign council to rule Sudan during the transition, with five seats going to the military and five to civilians, with an additional seat given to a civilian agreed upon by both sides. The plan envisages a rotating presidency and civilian-military ruling council. The military would lead the sovereign council for the first 21 months, and a civilian would take over for the remaining 18 months, it said. The FFC would appoint a cabinet of ministers, the SPA said, adding that a legislative council would be formed after the appointment of the sovereign council and the cabinet.

1998 Consitution

Following the 1989 coup that brought the present regime to power, the constitution of the previous regime was abrogated. In October 1997, a 277-member constitutional committee was formed to draft a new constitution. This document was approved by the National Assembly in April 1998 and then submitted to President al-Bashir. A referendum on the new constitution was held during 1-20 May 1998 and the results were announced in June 1998. The results showed that 96.7% of voters were in favour of the new constitution which came into force on 01 July 1998. Under the new constitution, executive power was vested in the Council of Ministers, which is appointed by the president but responsible to the National Assembly. Legislative power is vested in the National Assembly. The constitution provides for the right to life and equality, freedom of association, right to privacy, immunity against arbitrary arrest and detention, freedom of expression and the press, freedom of religion and freedom of movement.

2005 Consitution

The Interim National Constitution was adopted on July 6, 2005. It was drafted by the National Constitutional Review Commission, as mandated by the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The government is establishing a process to write a new constitution following the end of the CPA period.

The Transitional Constitution of the Republic of the Sudan, was ratified; and subsequently signed, on 9th July, 2005, at the Republican Palace Garden, Khartoum. This was according to the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) (2005), between the Sudanese Government and the Sudanese People Liberation Movement (SPLM).

The Transitional Constitution was promulgated, to cover the Transitional period of six years. It contained the setting of the nature of the State; which was provided for, as an independent republic, with its own sovereignty. It is a democratic and decentralized State, with diverse Cultures and Languages where various elements; races and religions co-exit. Hence, the unity of the Sudan, is instituted on the free will of its people; and that religion, beliefs, traditions and conventions are the sources of the moral power and inspiration for the people. Moreover, the cultural and social diversity of the Sudanese people, is the base of national integration and solidarity.

Executive authority was held by the president who is also the prime minister, head of state, head of government and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The social and institutional character of the Sudanese state has undergone a radical transformation since the seizure of power by the National Salvation regime on 30 June 1989. The most enduring element of this self-proclaimed revolution has not been the Islamist ideology from which it drew inspiration, but the transfer of authority and resources from the state bureaucracy to parastatal organizations. As a result, the political system, broadly defined, has blurred the boundaries between state, economy, and society.

The Constitution adopted the Islamic Shariaa and Convention, as the sources of legislation, on the national levels. It is applied to the Northern Sudan States. Likewise, the Constitution provided that the popular reconciliation, the values and conventions of the Sudanese people, their traditions and religious beliefs, are the source of legislations which were promulgated on the national levels; and are applied in the Southern Sudan and its states. The Constitution also provides for the establishment of the Government of National Unity, for the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The Government Of Southern Sudan (GOSS) was, also, to be established, in the limits of the borders of same, which existed since the First of January, 1956. It also provided for self-determination, for the South, through a Plebiscite Ė before six months of the end of the Transitional period Ė either for confirming the unity of the Sudan, or the Separation.

Executive authority is held by the president, who also is the prime minister, head of state, head of government, and commander in chief of the armed forces. The executive branch also includes a first vice president and a vice president. As stipulated by the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, the second vice president position is held by a person of Darfuri origin.

The structure of the bicameral National Legislature changed with the 2005 Interim National Constitution. It now consists of a Council of States (50 seats; members indirectly elected by state legislatures to serve six-year terms) and a National Assembly (450 seats; 60% from geographic constituencies, 25% from a women's list, and 15% from party lists; members to serve six-year terms). The National Assembly, the lower house, formerly had 354 elected members. Members of the National Assembly were elected by popular vote in parliamentary elections every four years. Of the 360 members of the National Assembly, 270 are directly elected in constituencies, 35 are women representatives, 26 are university graduate representatives and 29 are representatives of the trade unions The Council of States was formerly composed of two representatives from each of the nation's 15 states, and two observers from the Abyei Area.

The Judicial branch consists of a High Court, Minister of Justice, Attorney General, civil and special tribunals. The judiciary is not independent and is largely subservient to the Government. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, formerly elected by sitting judges, is now appointed by the president. As the senior judge in the judicial service, the Chief Justice also controls the judiciary. On occasion, some courts display a degree of independence. Appeal courts on several occasions have overturned decisions of lower courts in political cases, particularly public order courts.

The judicial system includes four types of courts; regular courts, both civil and criminal; special mixed security courts; military courts; and tribal courts in rural areas to resolve disputes over land, water rights and family matters. Within the regular court system, there are civil and criminal courts, appeal courts and the Supreme Court. Public order courts, which heared only minor public order issues, have been suspended and public order cases are now heard in criminal courts

In 1989, the Special Courts Act created special three-person security courts to deal with a wide range of offences, including violations of constitutional decrees, emergency regulations, some sections of the Penal Code, as well as drug and currency defences. Special courts, on which both military and civilian judges sit, handle most security-related cases. Sentences usually are severe and implemented at once, however, death sentences are referred to the Chief Justice and the Head of State. Defendants may file appellate briefs with the Chief Justice.

The 1991 Criminal Act, based on an interpretation of shari'a law, governs criminal cases, whereas the 1983 Civil Transactions Act still applies to most civil cases. The constitution provides for fair and prompt trials but in practice, however, these legal protections are applied inconsistently. Military trials, which are sometimes secret and brief, do not provide procedural safeguards.

Administrative subdivisions consist of states, most with an elected governor, along with a state cabinet and elected state legislative assembly. States are divided into districts, with 133 districts comprising the states. Sudan consists of 17 states or administrative divisions: ((wilyat (singular); wilaya (plural) the names of the states by population size are as follows: Khartoum (Khartoum); Gezira (Wad Madani), North Kordofan (El-Obeid); South Darfur (Nyala); South Kordofan (Kadugli); North Darfur (El-Fashir); Kassala (Kassala); East Darfur (Al-Diayn); White Nile (Rabak); Red Sea (Port Sudan); Al-Gadarif (Al-Gadarif); Sinnar (Sinja); River Nile (Al-Damir); Blue Nile (Al- Damazeen); West Darfur (Al-Jinayna); Northern State (Dongola) and Central Darfur (Zalinji).

In January 2015 the parliament approved a constitutional amendment that gave the president new powers to appoint state governors who were previously elected. Analysts saw the move as another attempt to consolidate power in Khartoum, and to control politics in states where the government is fighting off armed rebellions.

Seventy-two parties registered to take part in the April 2010 elections. Following the secession, there are many political parties, 70 of which are registered. All political parties were banned following the June 30, 1989 military coup. Political associations, taking the place of parties, were authorized in 2000. Some parties are in self-imposed exile. The principal national parties are the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan Peopleís Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which is an offshoot of the South Sudan-based party and is currently banned by the Sudanese Government.

In November 2013 President al-Bashir called on the Constitutional Emergency Committee (CEC) to draft constitutional amendments. A total of eighteen articles in the 2005 Interim National Constitution were amended. Three of these amendments were critical. Article 2 (c) allowed the president to appoint governors who will longer be elected through universal suffrage. Article 151 transformed the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) into a regular force to legitimize the creation of its militia; the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Article 147 was the inclusion of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) into the constitution.

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Page last modified: 19-08-2019 16:18:55 ZULU