KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - By the recent initialing of the constitutional declaration, and the earlier initialed political document, Sudanese are hoping that the hard-won concessions from the military could lead the country into a truly representative rule three years from now.
The political document had shared power between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the opposition Forces Of the Declaration For Freedom and Change (FDFC).
According to this document, an eleven-member transitional presidency (so far called the sovereign council) will be divided 5/5 between the military and the civilians. It was also agreed that the sixth member in the sovereign council would be named “by consensus” between the two parties. This sixth member is sought to give the council a civilian face, as the opposition, the AU and its mediators and the international community were adamant that the successors of Dictator Omar Albashir should be civilian.
The opposition’s argument for insisting upon a majority of civilian seats in the sovereign council was that they would never replace a military ruler by another military ruler. “We can’t drive one Bashir by the door, to get another Bashir by the window,” was the buzz word on the lips of all opposition leaders.
The political document has also authorized the FDFC to name the executive (The Council of Ministers) and the Prime Minister. In addition, the document availed the FDFC 67% of seats in the transitional legislative council of 300 members and authorized them to pick the remaining 33% of legislative council members from forces that did not sign the FDFC declaration but were opposed to Bashir’s rule. Bashir’s political party (The National Congress Party) and its allies were excluded from any government or legislative role during the transitional period.
The Constitutional Declaration is the law that governs government work during the interim period
Both accords will be officially signed on 17 August in a ceremony expected to be attended by senior guests from the AU, the US, Europe and the neighboring states.
The sovereign council is believed to be largely ceremonial, following the norms in parliamentary democracies. It will be initially headed by a military general during the first 21 months, to be replaced by a civilian member for the remaining period of the transitional government of 18 months.
Because the Constitutional Declaration has not yet been released in its final form, Sudanow gives some paraphrasing of its terms:
- The transitional period will last for 39 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 details of its formation was mentioned above).
- 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 FDFC will appoint the prime minister.
- The prime minister will name a cabinet of 20 ministers from a list of nominees presented to him by the FDFC, excluding the interior and defense ministers. The latter pair will be named by the military members of the sovereign council.
- Legal action cannot be taken against members of the three councils without permission from the legislative council which will be founded in a period not exceeding three months. 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 and at least 40 percent of the seats will be reserved for women.
- 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 includes 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 the 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.
- Everybody 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.
- Everybody has the right to peaceful assembly and the right to create and/or join political parties, NGOs, syndicates, and professional unions.