June 18, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – A seminar held in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi to discuss the drafting process of a new constitution in Sudan called for incorporating clauses that recognize diversity and upholds basic freedoms.
The meeting which brought Sudanese journalists, lawyers, human rights defenders, and political activists adopted a “Declaration of Guiding Principles for Constitution Making in Sudan”.
“Conscious of a deepening national crisis characterised by extreme political polarisation, grave human rights violations, and ongoing conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, delegates agreed on the need for a constitution that establishes a pluralistic and democratic system of governance, and one that respects ethnic, religious and cultural diversities in Sudan” according to a statement released by the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS).
“Other key guiding principles included respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, gender equality and the eradication of all forms of discrimination against women, the achievement of social justice and the equitable distribution of wealth and power, and an end to impunity and the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms,” ACJPS further said.
After South Sudan became an independent state in July 2011, Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir declared that the country’s new constitution will be 100% Islamic and would make Arabic the official language.
Sudan’s current constitution, which was agreed in 2005 as per the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with South Sudan, in theory recognises the country’s ethnic, religious and cultural diversity.
Opposition parties and critics claim that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) plans to use the new constitution as a tool to silence dissent and tighten its grip on power.
While several opposition parties rejected participation in the constitution drafting committee outright, some NCP officials claimed that some have privately expressed interest in taking part.