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‘Constitutional amendments demise of Sudan’s Bill of Rights’: opposition

January 8 - 2015 KHARTOUM
Government forces in Darfur, November 2014 (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)
Government forces in Darfur, November 2014 (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

The two oldest and largest Sudanese opposition parties, the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), strongly criticised the amendments to the 2005 Sudanese Interim Constitution, approved by the parliament last week.

The legal committee of the DUP, headed by Mohamed Osman El Mirghani, issued a statement on Wednesday, saying that the constitutional amendments “fully contradict the issue of national reconciliation, intend to end any dialogue, and are only meant to secure the ruling regime.”

According to the statement, signed by Ali El Sayed, the amendments represent a “full demise of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and decentralised governance”.

The constitutional amendments concern the appointment of state governors by the Sudanese president instead of being elected, the matching of the status and powers of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) to those of the armed forces, and the inclusion of the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur in the Constitution.

The parliament, of which 90 percent of the 450 seats are taken by members of the ruling National Congress Party, passed the amendments without any difficulty.

According to the NUP, led by El Sadig El Mahdi, the amendments “not only strengthen the control of the authoritarian regime, and the national security apparatus on all fields, but also make an end to the separation of powers, as the judicial branch is now under unprecedented presidential control, on top of his direct leadership of the NISS”.

In a statement, issued on Wednesday too, the NUP describes the amendments as “contradictory to the spirit of the 2005 Interim Constitution, wrong in form, content, and timing, and an abuse of the sovereignty of the state of Sudan”.

“People may again resort to violence in their protests against the domination of the central government.” 

“The amendments, that stripped the citizens from their right to choose their governors, will complicate the rule in the country. They may lead to the people’s refusal of an appointed governor, and to conflicts between those who demand their share in their states governments.

“After the amendment to Article 151, the functions of the NISS, instead of “collecting and analysing information and data”, will match those of the armed forces. Thus the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by the NISS, and enjoying full impunity, will become part of Sudan's regular forces, supervised by the Presidency. The government militia will thus be fully legitimised,” the Umma Party stated.

The NUP warned that the “reduction of the powers of the citizens” will “aggravate their anger and their ethnically-based grudges, already exacerbated by the policies of the ruling regime”. “People may again resort to violence in their protests against the domination of the central government,” the party stressed in its statement.

In an interview with Dabanga Sudan on 5 January, the chairman of the parliamentary Popular Congress Party block, Dr Ismail Hussein Fadlallah, called the amendments “sinful”. They “aim at returning all the power to the central government”.

He warned that the amendments will convert Sudan into a full-blown police state.

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