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Civil society orgs warn Sudan govt against implementing peace agreement

October 17 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Residents of El Fasher in North Darfur celebrate International Day of Peace (UNAMID)
Residents of El Fasher in North Darfur celebrate International Day of Peace (UNAMID)

The Confederation of Sudan Civil Society Organisations says that including agreed protocols of the Juba Peace Agreement in the Constitutional Document before all parties in the country sign a peace agreement will send a “harmful message”.

The statement, issued yesterday, follows reports earlier in the week that the Sudanese Minister of Justice presented the delegation of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance in Khartoum with a proposal for incorporating the peace deal provisions into the Constitutional Document.

The Confederation warned that all procedures of incorporating the Juba deal must be halted in order to smoothen the negotiation process, create an “environment of inclusion,” and thus ensure a comprehensive peace in Sudan.

Agreements with holdout rebel movements must be completed, the Eastern Sudan Consultative Conference has been held, and all institutions of democratic governance must be established, in particular the parliament, before agreements can be incorporated into the Constitutional Document of August 2019.

Nonetheless, the Confederation welcome the Juba Peace Agreement, signed on October 3, describing it as an important step on the road to achieving comprehensive peace.

Amendments

The united Civil Society Organisations stated that the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers do not have the competence to amend the Constitutional Document. “No amendments to the Constitutional Document can be approved except by a legislative authority. Any action otherwise is a violation of the Constitutional Document.”

At the Forum for Peace and Security in Sudan, co-organised by El Ayam Centre for Cultural Studies and Development and the Karama Network in Khartoum on Wednesday, the legal possibilities of amending the Constitutional Document were discussed.

Leading member of the National Umma Party and the Forces for Freedom and Change, Ibrahim El Amin, said that alliances between Sudan’s military leaders and rebel leaders were formed during meetings outside the negotiations. “These alliances led to the addition of a number articles in the peace agreement that point to a new Constitutional Document rather than amendments.”

He indicated that there are parties seeking to bring new faces to the government, stating that “the conversations include Hamdok himself.”

Consensus needed

Mahjoub Mohamed Saleh, co-founder of El Ayam daily in 1953, and founder and head of the El Ayam Centre, said “that all issues, regardless of their sensitivity, should be discussed until consensus is reached”.

The Undersecretary of the Federal Governance Ministry, Hasan Nasrallah, attributed the roots of the Sudan crises to “the failure to reach a consensual formula for the division of power and wealth since independence”.

Nasrallah stressed the need to reach consensus on how to govern the country, and made clear that this requires concessions from the more developed regions to the less. This is of particular concern, according to the undersecretary, because “there have already been disputes” between the parties over three positions in the Sovereign Council allocated to the SRF rebel alliance.

Concerning criticism about the use of quotas in the peace accord, he said: “This is not a defect. It is also applied in Switzerland. The use of quotas guarantees all regions are included.”

Constitutional crisis

The Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Khartoum, Mohamed Abdelsalam warned that the view that the peace agreement prevails over the Constitutional Document will create a constitutional crisis.

He further said that the members of the Sovereign Council and the ministers have no right to amend the document. “It is not possible to amend the Constitutional Document or to give a constitutional status to the peace agreement until after the formation of parliament.”

It was also agreed in Juba that the Sovereign Council will select 100 MPs, and the rebel movements will be responsible for 75 seats. Abdelsalam considers this a way to create “new alliances”.

He warned that any change in the agreement without respecting the constitutional provisions agreed on last year will seriously affect the justice process in Sudan and undermine the principle of the Rule of Law.


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