Sudan disbands Bashir’s NCP party, overturns moral policing law

Sudanese protesters chant slogans during a rally calling for the former ruling party to be dissolved and for ex-officials to be put on trial in Khartoum. (Reuters)
Updated 30 November 2019

Sudan disbands Bashir’s NCP party, overturns moral policing law

  • Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) condemned the new ‘illegal government’ for ordering its closure and the dismantling of his regime

CAIRO: Sudan’s transitional government announced on Friday that it has overturned a moral policing law and moved to dissolve the country’s former ruling party, fulfilling two major demands from the country’s pro-democracy protesters.

Rights groups say the Public Order Act (POA) targets women and is a holdover from the three-decade rule of toppled Omar Bashir.

“This law is notorious for being used as a tool of exploitation, humiliation & violation of rights,” Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok tweeted in reference to the overturned law. “I pay tribute to the women and youth of my country who have endured the atrocities that resulted from the implementation of this law.”

The authorities have also slapped a ban on any “symbols” of the former regime from taking part in political activities for 10 years.

The new ruling sovereign council and Cabinet led by Hamdok passed the decisions under a law named “Dismantling of the regime of 30th June, 1989.”

“The National Congress Party (NCP) is dissolved and its registration is canceled from the list of political parties in Sudan,” the decree said, adding that a committee would be formed to confiscate all its assets.

Move condemned

Bashir’s NCP condemned the new “illegal government” for ordering its closure and the dismantling of his regime.

The NCP accused the authorities of trying to confiscate its properties and assets to tackle Sudan’s economic crisis which it said the new government had failed to tackle.

“To rely on the assets of the party, if there are any, is nothing more than a moral scandal, an act of intellectual bankruptcy and a total failure on the part of the illegal government,” the NCP said on its Facebook page.

“The party is not bothered by any law or decision issued against it as the NCP is a strong party and its ideas will prevail.”

Hamdok however said the law to dissolve the party and dismantle the regime was “not revenge” against the former rulers.

“But it aims to preserve the dignity of Sudanese people which was crushed by dishonest people,” he wrote on Twitter.

“This law aims to recover the plundered wealth of the people.”

The sovereign council grew out of a power-sharing agreement between the country’s ruling generals and protesters demanding sweeping political change. 

Under the deal, the council and the civilian-led Cabinet share legislative powers until a new Parliament is formed.

Pro-democracy groups in the country have also held fresh protests demanding the former ruling party’s disbandment and the exclusion of all its remnants from different state institutions.

Hamdok tweeted that the bill dismantling Bashir’s party is not the outcome of “a quest of vengeance but rather to preserve and restore the dignity of our people who have grown weary of the injustice under the hands of NCP, who have looted & hindered the development of this great nation.”

Sudan’s Justice Minister Nasr-Eddin Abdul-Bari announced that the law passed by the interim government on Friday would transfer all assets and funds of Bashir’s party to the state treasury.

“With this law, we will be able to retrieve a lot of funds that were taken from the public treasury to create institutions that acted as a parallel state,” he said.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded the uprising against Bashir, hailed the move as “an important step” toward the establishment of a civil and democratic state in Sudan. Bashir was arrested after his overthrow in April and is currently on trial for charges of corruption and money laundering.


Syrian pound plummets as new US sanctions loom

Updated 06 June 2020

Syrian pound plummets as new US sanctions loom

  • Syria is in the thick of an economic crisis compounded by a coronavirus lockdown and a dollar liquidity crunch in neighboring Lebanon
  • The UN food agency said any further depreciation risked increasing the cost of imported basic food items

BEIRUT: Syria’s pound hit record lows on the black market Saturday trading at over 2,300 to the dollar, less than a third of its official value, traders said, ahead of new US sanctions.
Three traders in Damascus told AFP by phone that the dollar bought more than 2,300 Syrian pounds for the first time, though the official exchange rate remained fixed at around 700 pounds to the greenback.
After nine years of war, Syria is in the thick of an economic crisis compounded by a coronavirus lockdown and a dollar liquidity crunch in neighboring Lebanon.
Last month, the central bank warned it would clamp down on currency “manipulators.”
Analysts said concerns over the June 17 implementation of the US Caesar Act, which aims to sanction foreign persons who assist the Syrian government or help in post-war reconstruction, also contributed to the de fact devaluation.
Zaki Mehchy, a senior consulting fellow at Chatham House, said foreign companies — including from regime ally Russia — were already opting not to take any risks.
With money transactions requiring two to three weeks to implement, “today’s transactions will be paid after June 17,” he said.
Heiko Wimmen, Syria project director at the conflict tracker Crisis Group, said that with the act coming into force, “doing business with Syria will become even more difficult and risky.”
Both analysts said the fall from grace of top business tycoon Rami Makhlouf despite being a cousin of the president was also affecting confidence.
“The Makhlouf saga is spooking the rich,” Wimmen said.
After the Damascus government froze assets of the head of the country’s largest mobile phone operator and slapped a travel ban on him, the wealthy feel “nobody is safe,” he said.
They are thinking “you better get your assets and perhaps yourself out preparing for further shakedowns,” he said.
Mehchy said the impact of the pound’s decline and ensuing price hikes on Syrians would be “catastrophic.”
Most of Syria’s population lives in poverty, according to the United Nations, and food prices have doubled over the past year.
The UN food agency’s Jessica Lawson said any further depreciation risked increasing the cost of imported basic food items such as rice, pasta and lentils.
“These price increases risk pushing even more people into hunger, poverty and food insecurity as Syrians’ purchasing power continues to erode,” the World Food Programme spokeswoman said.
“Families may be forced to cut the quality and quantity of food they buy.”