Sudan army rulers want to retain Sharia as legal guide

Spokesman of the Sudan's Transitional Military Council Lt Gen Shamseddine Kabbashi speaks during a press conference in Khartoum on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 08 May 2019

Sudan army rulers want to retain Sharia as legal guide

  • The military council received the proposals from the protest leaders last week
  • The council said they have “many reservations” against the changes in the proposal

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s army rulers Tuesday said Islamic law should remain the guiding principle in a new civilian structure, after protest leaders handed in proposed changes they want enforced but kept silent on Shariah.

The 10-member military council, which seized control of the country after president Omar Al-Bashir was deposed in April, was handed the proposals last week for the new civilian structures protest leaders want.

The military council told reporters that the generals overall agreed to the proposals but had “many reservations.” These included the silence on Islamic Shariah law remaining the bedrock of all laws.

“The declaration failed to mention the sources of legislation, and the Islamic Shariah law and tradition should be the source of legislation,” Lt. Gen. Shamseddine Kabbashi, spokesman for the military council, told reporters.

Sudan, under Bashir, saw Islamic law applied inconsistently, even though the country’s constitution says that Sharia is the guiding principle.

Over the years this led to thousands of women being flogged for “indecent behavior,” according to women’s rights activists.

Kabbashi said the military council was also of the opinion that declarations of emergencies be in the hands of a “sovereign” authority and not the cabinet as proposed by protest leaders.

He said the composition of a “sovereign” body has yet to be discussed with the protest leaders.

The military council and protest leaders have differed on the composition of an overall ruling council, with protest leaders demanding it be led by majority civilians and the generals insisting it be a military-led body.

Kabbashi said that the military council wanted a two year transition period as opposed to four years proposed by protest leaders.

Protest leaders confirmed they had received the military council’s response to their proposals.

“It will be considered in the coming hours,” said Mohamed Naji Al-Assam, a leader from the Sudanese Professionals Association that initially launched the campaign against Bashir’s rule in December.

But he reiterated that the protesters demand of full civilian rule has to be met.

“The solution and success of the revolution lies on transfer of power to a full civilian authority,” he said.

Protest leaders have often called the military rulers the “remnants of the regime” of Bashir.

“We are not heirs to the former regime,” said Lt. Gen. Yasser Al-Atta, who also attended the press conference along with Kabbashi late on Tuesday.

Kabbashi also revealed that Sudan’s former head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service, Salah Ghosh, had been put under house arrest.

It was Ghosh who oversaw security agents’ sweeping crackdown on protesters before the fall of Bashir.

Dozens of protesters were killed in the crackdown, hundreds wounded and thousands jailed.

Thousands of protesters meanwhile remain encamped outside the army complex in central Khartoum, demanding that the army rulers step down and hand over power to a civilian administration.

The generals took power after the army ousted Bashir on April 11 following months of protests against his iron-fisted rule.

But since then the military council has resisted calls for handing over power to civilians, the main demand of protesters.

Israel eases Gaza fishing restrictions after truce

Updated 2 min 6 sec ago

Israel eases Gaza fishing restrictions after truce

  • Israel extended the fishing limit to up to 15 nautical miles
  • The move restores the fishing zone to the limits set in April ahead of Israel’s general election

GAZA CITY: Israel announced Tuesday it had eased fishing restrictions off the blockaded Gaza Strip after a cease-fire with Hamas ended a deadly escalation earlier this month.
Israel extended the fishing limit to up to 15 nautical miles, said COGAT, the defense ministry unit that oversees such regulations.
The move restores the fishing zone to the limits set in April ahead of Israel’s general election.
Gaza fishing union official, Zakaria Bakr, however told AFP on Tuesday morning it had yet to be informed of any changes.
COGAT did not provide further details, but in April the limit was set at six nautical miles in the north near the Israeli border, 12 off central Gaza and 15 in the south near the Egyptian border, according to the fishing union.
Israel banned fishing completely when the two-day flare-up of violence began earlier this month, but lifted the ban with a restriction of up to 12 nautical miles following the truce.
The 15-nautical-mile limit is the largest allowed in years by Israel, which has fought three wars with Palestinian militants in the enclave and has blockaded it for more than a decade.
But human rights activists note that it still falls short of the 20 nautical miles agreed under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Israeli authorities did not say the move was linked to the truce reached earlier this month with Hamas, the Islamist movement that rules the Gaza Strip.
But Palestinian officials said at the time of the May 6 cease-fire that it included Israel taking steps to ease its blockade.
Israel media reported late Monday that the cease-fire, brokered by Egyptian and UN officials, is a six-month deal that includes the expansion of the fishing zone as well as the transfer of medicines and other aid to Gaza.
Negotiations are to also take place on issues including Gaza’s severe electricity shortage and border crossings, the reports said.
In return, Hamas would calm protests along the border and halt maritime demonstrations aimed at breaking the blockade.
Hamas denied the reports and Israel did not immediately comment.