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Constitutional Amendments: Reading Post-Elections Book

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (SUDANOW)—The recent elections were conducted according to amendments to the Interim Constitution of 2005 passed by the Sudanese National Assembly (parliament) last February .
The amendments include one transforming the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) into an organized force instead of a body for collection and analysis of information .
Another significant amendment provides for giving the President of the Republic the powers of appointment and sacking the governors of the states instead of electing them by the people of the states.
The Assembly also amended the elections law of 2008 under which the previous 2010 elections were organized before secession of South Sudan .
This amendment raised the proportional representation of women in the current 2015 elections from 25% to 30% under which the women will occupy 128 instead of the previous 113 seats and the proportional representation of the political parties from 15% to 20%, raising their seats from 67 to 85 .
The National Assembly believes those amendments will broaden the base of participation and administration of a "deep and effective" dialogue on running the country's affairs prior to the 2015 elections .
However, numerous opposition parties opposed organization of the elections on the scheduled date and demanded in advance formation of a transitional government tasked with supervision amendment of the constitution to be followed by organization of the elections .
For their part, the National Elections Commission (NEC), the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the pro-government parties insisted on holding the elections on schedule, April 13 .
The Secretary-General of the pro-government Democratic Liberals Party (DLP) told SUDANOW said his party agreed to some points of the amendments and made remarks on other points. What is important is that dialogue must continue for further amendments on which consensus agreement could be reached, he said.
"All of us- both government and opposition- have to play the role of the peace pigeon and all of us should get together for dialogue and exchange opinions," the DLP leader said .
He described the amendments as better than the previous provisions and might provide his party with a wider opportunity for participation in running the country's affairs .
Commenting on the amendment which provides for appointment of the governors of the states, the DLP Secretary-General said the news system might bring in good governors if they are picked up in consultation with, and satisfaction of the other political parties and organizations .

Checking the register
Checking the register


He said his party, which was formed in the 1990s and took part in the previous 2010 elections, believes that raising the proportional representation of the parties would widen the political participation to realize the motto of "Ruling is the Right to everyone" .
However, the pro-government politician believes that the transformation of the NISS into an organized body might have a negative impact on the freedoms and therefore its role must be of a security, rather than a political nature .
The youth and students secretary of the Free Will Party (FWP) told SUDANOW that "all people should work for making the will of the people overrule through a transparent political participation for addressing all of the political and economic crises" .
He opines that the amendments can contribute to the stability of the strained political situation, particularly the proportional representation of the parties and the women. They may also contribute positively to enabling all the political parties to take part in selection of the governors, either from those parties or choosing qualified governors through consultation and agreement with the political parties even if they are not affiliated to them .
Commenting on the NISS amendment, the youth secretary warned that granting new powers to this organ might make it a tool for political repression if no consensus is reached and if no broad participation that is satisfactory to all political forces is found .
The political analyst, Professor Mirghani Ibn Oaf, said: First of all we have to point out that the sectarian and ideological parties, before and after the independence, consolidated the power parenthood concept which makes the ruler or president remain in power till his death or is toppled by another person. This system is similar to inherited right of the monarchy and is evident in the history of the democracy within and out of the political parties .
In this disorderly political environment, the analyst went on, numerous constitutions were drafted which could have consolidate the democracy and the ruling stability for building an institutional state in the Sudan .
"But we repeatedly violated those constitution and we should not forget the public saying: 'Abu Al-Zuhour violated the constitution,'" said Oaf in reference to a measure by the first Sudanese prime minister Ismaiel al-Azhari of dissolving the Sudanese Communist Party.
"The constitution was constantly violated and the violation was usually in the interest of the President and this practice was repeated during the regimes of Azhari, Nimeiry and current Ingaz," he added .

voting
voting



Targeting the civilian system which began in the late 1970s and continued afterwards slowed down the process of developing the mechanisms of national dialogue and peaceful devolution of power even within the single party, Oaf said, adding: "In fact all of the regimes- totalitarian, military and democratic- have failed in this effort" .
He noted that the amendment which provided for militarizing the NISS was unfortunate as this body, according to its current law, is concerned only with gathering and analyzing information and this law "does not militarize it or charge it with the police role" .
Oaf agrees as correct the amendment of raising the proportional representation rate, saying awareness of the importance of this representation dated back to earliest elections when the graduates' constituencies system was introduced during the first days of the independence.
He believes that the lack of civics as part of the curricula of the schools and universities played a role in support of continuity of the power parenthood and succumbing to the ruler and, consequently, to a delay in producing good governance based on serving the interests of the people.
Oaf would not expect those constitutional amendments would lead to any consolidation or establishment of a democratic system or a proper devolution of power that can resolve the country's political participation crisis but "may cost the Sudanese people fifty more years to achieve this goal," adding that achievement of this goal requires transforming the democracy from a demand by the elite to one upheld by the masses of the people.
Academic and political analyst Siddeiq Taor told SUDANOW that the defect of the amendments was that they were adopted by one side which was the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) which introduced them separately regardless of the existing political situation and growing tension in all walks of life and therefore the intentions behind them incited suspicions that they were made for special interests.
Taor believes that those amendments could not in any way serve the process of a serious search for finding a solution to the Sudanese crisis and have therefore ignored the viewpoints of all other parties.
He described the NISS amendment as "a step taken in the wrong direction" because Taor believes that the security organ and its law were one of the causes of the crisis between the NCP and the opposition parties as the latter consider it as a tool of oppression for the ruling party. In order to make the organ one of the state's institutions, all parties to the crisis must take part in every step relevant to it due to its high sensitivity so as to make of it a national body irrespective of the ruling party .


Counting of votes
Counting of votes


As regards the amendment which provides for appointment of the governors of the states, Taor said this must be the right of the people of each state and should not possessed by the President of the Republic because this is undemocratic. This amendment could be understood as a measure for empowerment of the NCP supporters, he added.
Taor said the increase of the proportional representation might have been a positive amendment if had been adopted in a normal way with participation of all parties, particularly as the women have a small share in the public work and in the political participation.
Writer Mohamed Ali Khojali said the post-2015 goals are obvious and made clearer by amendments of the 2005 Interim Constitution and the accompanying elections law of 2008.
According to Khojali, the political objectives of the amendments are: expansion of the powers of the President of the Republic, tightening the grip on the states, a gradual change of the ruling system from a federal to a central one, rescinding the election of the governors of the states, depriving the right of the state to determining the number of the members of the legislative council of that state, shrinking and expropriating the jurisdictions of the states of employment, pension and social insurance and other jurisdictions, making the NCP the predominant party in a plural political system, barring the existence of an effective opposition (constituting a potential alternative to the ruling party) as a necessary step for reshaping the Sudanese political arena including: keeping the small parties, and weakening the big and historic parties by tearing and extinguishing them .

The Democratic Unionist Party has claimed it has participated in the current presidential and parliamentary elections with the aim of avoiding a constitutional vacuum, away from any political gains.

Mohamed Moutasim Hakim, a leader within the DUP, said the primary aim of his party was not gaining parliamentary seats or scoring political gains. The elections, he said, will pave the road for the continuation of the National Dialogue for which the party leader Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani has called well before it was publicly announced by President al-Bashir, with the aim of unifying the people of Sudan to face major challenges ahead.

Democratic Unionist Party leader al-Mirghani
Democratic Unionist Party leader al-Mirghani



Abu Baker Abdul Razig, a senior figure of the Popular Congress, has meanwhile said his party was of the view that the ruling NCP should not regard winning the elections as a sign that enjoys broad public support and that therefore it could shun the other political forces in the country .
The NCP, he advised, should maintain dialogue with other political forces; He was also of the view that President al-Bashir should personally shoulder this responsibility.

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Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...

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