Sovereignty Council of Sudan
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The eleven-member Sovereignty Council of Sudan (Arabic: مجلس السيادة السوداني) is the collective head of state of Sudan, for 39 months starting 20 August 2019, created by the August 2019 Draft Constitutional Declaration. Under Article 10.(b) of the Draft Constitutional Declaration, the Council is composed of five civilians chosen by the Forces of Freedom and Change alliance (FFC), five military representatives chosen by the Transitional Military Council (TMC), and a civilian selected by agreement between the FFC and TMC. The chair for the first 21 months is a military member, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and for the remaining 18 months the chair is to be a civilian member, under Article 10.(c). The Sovereignty Council is mostly male, with only two female members: Aisha Musa el-Said and Raja Nicola. Under Article 19 of the Draft Constitutional Declaration, the eleven Sovereignty Council members are ineligible to run in the election scheduled to follow the transition period. The 39-month transitional period is scheduled to end in November 2022.
Sudan had multi-member Sovereignty Councils holding the role of head of state of Sudan several times during the twentieth century. Following more than half a year of sustained civil disobedience and a shift of the presidency from Omar al-Bashir to the Transitional Military Council (TMC) in April 2019 by a coup d'etat, the TMC and the Forces of Freedom and Change alliance (FFC) made a July 2019 Political Agreement and completed it by the August 2019 Draft Constitutional Declaration. Articles 9.(a) and 10.(a) of the August 2019 Draft Constitutional Declaration both transfer the role of head of state to the Sovereignty Council.
Structure and membership
Article 10.(b) of the Draft Constitutional Declaration defines the Sovereignty Council to consist of five civilians chosen by the FFC, five military chosen by the TMC, and a civilian "selected by agreement" between the FFC and TMC.
Under Article 10.(c) of the Draft Constitutional Declaration, for the first 21 months of the 39-month transitional period defined by the document, the chair of the Sovereignty Council is to be chosen by the five military members of the council. For the following 18 months, the chair is to be chosen by the five civilian members selected by the FFC.
The military membership of the Sovereignty Council includes Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Lieutenant-General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo ("Hemetti"), Lieutenant-General Yasser al-Atta, General Shams al-Din Khabbashi and Major-General Ibrahim Jabir Karim. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo is the deputy chairman of the Sovereignty Council.
The five civilians chosen by the FFC are Aisha Musa el-Said of the National Gathering Initiative; Siddiq Tawer, a prominent member of the Sudanese Ba'ath Party (and thereby a member of the National Consensus Forces) from the Nuba Mountains; Mohamed al-Faki Suleiman of the Unionist Rally; Hassan Sheikh Idris (or Hassan Mohamed Idris) of Sudan Call and Mohammed Hassan Osman al-Ta'ishi of the Sudanese Professionals Association. Taha Othman Ishaq (or Osman), a lawyer and member of the FFC negotiating committee, declined his nomination by the FFC to the Sovereignty Council on the grounds that the FFC alliance had earlier agreed that members of the negotiating committee should not become members of the Sovereignty Council.
Raja Nicola is the civilian member of the Sovereignty Council mutually chosen by the FFC and TMC. The choice of Nicola, as a member of the Sudanese Copt community, is seen as a symbol of respect for diversity, in particular to Sudanese Christians.
On 5 February 2021, al-Burhan issued a decree to add three new members to the Council recommended by feminist groups. The new members are Sudanese Revolutionary Front leader El Hadi Idris Yahya, Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North leader Malik Agar, and Sudan Liberation Movement for Justice-Karbino leader El Tahrir Abubakr Hajar.
List of members
The council has fourteen members as follows:
- Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (chair)
- Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (vice-chair)
- Yasser al-Atta
- Shams al-Din Khabbashi
- Ibrahim Jabir Karim
- Aisha Musa el-Said
- Siddiq Tawer
- Mohamed al-Faki
- Hassan Sheikh Idris
- Mohammed Hassan al-Ta'ishi
- Raja Nicola
- El Hadi Idris Yahya
- Malik Agar
- El Tahrir Abubakr Hajar
The Sovereignty Council is mostly male, with two of the eleven members being female: Aisha Musa el-Said and Raja Nicola. The Sudanese Women's Union argued that women had played as significant a role as men in the political changes of 2019 and that Sudanese women "claim an equal share of 50-50 with men at all levels, measured by qualifications and capabilities".
Ineligibility in 2022
Under Article 19 of the August 2019 Draft Constitutional Declaration, the eleven members of the Sovereignty Council of the transitional period are forbidden (along with ministers and other senior transition leaders) from running in the 2022 Sudanese general election scheduled to end the transitional period.
Article 11.(a) lists 17 political powers held by the Sovereignty Council, including the appointment of the Prime Minister, confirmation of leaders of certain state bodies, the right to declare war or a state of emergency, and signing and ratifying national and international agreements.
Separation of powers
On 24 October, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) claimed that civilian members of the Sovereignty Council violated the constitutional constraints on their power by appearing to coordinate with Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and override the Ministry of Health's role in managing vector control against the spread of dengue fever and chikungunya. The SPA stated, "the campaign appeared to be the scene of direct interaction of the [RSF] with the health situation in the concerned states, in the absence of health departments at the federal or state level. ... [The] whole issue of health is not the prerogative of the Sovereign Council." Sudan Tribune expressed concern that the RSF and its leader Hemetti were trying to improve the RSF's image, damaged by its carrying out of crimes against humanity in the War in Darfur and human rights violations during the 3 June 2019 Khartoum massacre.
Under Article 11.(c) of the Draft Constitutional Declaration, the Sovereignty Council makes decisions either by consensus, or when consensus is not possible, by a two-thirds majority (eight members).
Actions of the Sovereignty Council
In November 2019, Abdalla Hamdok's government repealed all laws restricting women's freedom of dress, movement, association, work and study. On 22 April 2020, the transitional government issued an amendment to its criminal legislation which declares that anyone who performs Female Genital Mutilation either in a medical establishment or elsewhere will be punished by three years' imprisonment and a fine.
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