Sudan names ruling council after landmark signing

Sudan names ruling council after landmark signing
Young Sudanese boys carry a national flag as they celebrate in Bahri, the capital Khartoum's northern district, a day after generals and protest leaders signed a historic transitional constitution meant to pave the way for civilian rule in Sudan, on August 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 August 2019

Sudan names ruling council after landmark signing

Sudan names ruling council after landmark signing
  • Rare scenes of jubilation filled the streets of Khartoum
  • Worldwide congratulations poured in after the signing, which revellers and officials alike hailed as the beginning of a “new Sudan”

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s opposition coalition on Sunday named five people as civilian members of the country’s sovereign council to be sworn in on Monday, a source within the coalition told Reuters.

A power-sharing agreement signed on Saturday paves the way for a transitional government and eventual elections. It provides for a sovereign council as the highest authority in the country but largely delegates executive powers to the Cabinet of ministers.

According to the agreement, the opposition coalition is allowed to choose five members of the council and the military another five, with the two sides jointly choosing a civilian as an eleventh member.

The Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) chose Aisha Mousa, Siddig Tower, Mohamed Elfaki Suleiman, Hassan Sheikh Idris and Taha Othman Ishaq, the coalition source said.

The spokesman for the Transitional Military Council (TMC) said that TMC head Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, his deputy Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Lt. Gen. Yasser Al-Atta will serve as three of the five military members. It has yet to announce the other two chosen members.

The military members will select the head of the council for the first 21 months of the transition period, which lasts three years and three months, according to the agreement.

The FFC has nominated a former UN economist  Abdalla Hamdok as prime minister. He is expected to be appointed on Tuesday and sworn in on Wednesday.

A Cabinet is then to be formed before Sudan’s new institutions can tackle the main challenges that lie ahead, first among them measures to rescue a moribund economy. 

According to the green book of documents signed on Saturday, several key steps will be taken before embarking on the long and obstacle-ridden road to 2022 polls.

The first is set to come with the planned announcement of the composition of a ruling sovereign council comprised of six civilians and five members of the military.

The signing ceremony in a hall by the Nile River was attended by several high-ranking foreign officials, the biggest such event in years to be held in the once-pariah state. Worldwide congratulations poured in after the signing, which revellers and officials alike hailed as the beginning of a “new Sudan” after 30 years of rule by the now-detained Omar Al-Bashir.

“I welcome this historic moment for Sudan. This agreement responds to the demands of the Sudanese people who have tirelessly called for change and a better future,” said Britain’s Minister for Africa Andrew Stephenson.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed his country would support the establishment of “a government that protects the rights of all Sudanese citizens and leads to free and fair elections.”

Jubilation

Rare scenes of jubilation filled the streets of the capital after generals and opposition leaders signed the documents that will govern Sudan’s three-year transition to civilian rule.

Making the most of a new freedom acquired during eight months of protests that left at least 250 people dead, Sudanese families took to the streets for wild celebrations.

Youths spilling out of honking cars drag-raced down the main Nile-side road deep into the night, while groups sang and danced — the same two words echoing across the entire city: “Madaniya, Madaniya.”

It loosely translates as “civilian rule” and one would be hard-pressed to find somebody on the streets of Khartoum publicly opposing that goal.

Some members of the opposition alliance that organized the protests however fear that the euphoria could be short-lived and deep distrust remains between the incoming sovereign council’s main players.

While the power-sharing compromise reached earlier this month was widely hailed as the best Sudan could hope for, some members of the protest camp feel it short-changed their revolution.

Sudanese analyst Abdel Latif Al-Buni stressed however that one of the most immediate perils facing the transition was divisions within the civilian camp.

“A spirit of revenge against the former regime is dangerous,” he said. “It will lead to a clash between the former regime and the new rulers.”

The former Sudanese president faces trial on corruption charges but his fate remains unclear.


Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity

Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity
Updated 16 January 2021

Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity

Abbas poll decree lifts hopes of Palestinian unity
  • First elections in 15 years “will usher in badly needed democracy”
  • The PA will hold legislative elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31

AMMAN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s announcement of the first parliamentary and presidential elections in 15 years has raised hopes of an end to longstanding divisions, but skeptics doubt it will bring about serious change.
According to decrees issued by the presidential office on Friday, the Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, will hold legislative elections on May 22 and a presidential vote on July 31.
Hanna Naser, head of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission, told a packed press conference a day earlier that the decrees will usher in a badly needed democratic process.
Naser said the elections will be transparent and will deliver a functioning legislative council, adding: “After 15 years without a legislative body, it is important to have accountability through a council elected by the people.”
Jibril Rajoub, secretary of the Fatah movement and a key force behind the election deal, said on Palestine TV that the decrees are a major breakthrough and reflect a Palestinian commitment to democratic principles.
Rajoub said that the elections commission will be responsible for all aspects of the poll, and that a meeting of all Palestinian factions next week in Cairo will help resolve any remaining issues.
Hussein Sheikh, minister of civil affairs and member of the Fatah Central Committee, tweeted that the presidential decrees are “an important step to strengthen democracy and partnership in a unified political regime that ensures the end of the split and will create a unified vision for a cooperative effort aimed at ending the occupation and accomplishing freedom and liberty for our people.”
Hamas welcomed the decrees, which include a commitment by all participants that the PLO represents Palestinians, and is responsible for foreign affairs and negotiations.
The decrees stipulate elections for a 132-member legislative council that will include Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza on a full proportional basis.
Presidential elections will follow in July and the Palestine National Council will hold elections wherever possible for candidates in different locations. All lists must have a woman as the third and fourth candidates on the list, with at least 26 percent of the next council to be female.
However, Ghassan Khatib, a lecturer at Bir Zeit University and a former minister, told Arab News that while he strongly supports the elections, he is worried about the quality of the poll.
“I am concerned that the elections will reflect the wishes of the political elite since the lists will be national and will be made up by political leaders who might not give enough attention to local communities and their needs,” he said.
Khatib, who founded the Jerusalem Center for Communication Studies, said that polls show Fatah could win the coming elections if it can present a unified list.
Hani Masri, director of the Masarat think tank, said that holding elections before national reconciliation is complete is a “formula for trouble.”
“Issuing presidential decrees for elections before reconciliation is doing things in reverse order,” he said. “To have elections, the land mines must be removed. If we don’t address some of these problems, we are inviting trouble,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
One suggestion to overcome this issue has been that the two main parties, Fatah and Hamas, agree on a joint list and a single nominee for president.
Marwan Muasher, vice president of Carnegie Endowment for International Studies, told Arab News that national unity is a necessary first step.
“National elections serve to renew Palestinian legitimacy, which has been significantly affected,” he said.
Palestinians are also unsure if Israel will allow East Jerusalem residents to take part in the elections. Under the Oslo accords, Jerusalem residents can vote at local post offices.