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.