Constitution in Sudan

SUDAN’S 1998 CONSTITUTION,ACCEPTED BY REFERENDUM, HAS NOW BEEN SUPERSEDED BY THE INTERIM NATIONAL Constitution of 2005, which embodies the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in Nairobi, Kenya on January 9, 2005. The Interim Constitution provides for an autonomous South Sudan, but the Constitution of South Sudan is compliant with the National Constitution and the President of South Sudan, under the interim arrangement, is equally First Vice President of the Republic. This arrangement, unique in postcolonial Africa, but having facilitated an end to hostilities between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which controlled a considerable part of the South, is to endure for six years as of July 9, 2005, pending the outcome of the referendum on secession to be held in South Sudan sometime during 2011.

The Interim National Constitution describes the Republic of Sudan as “an independent, sovereign state” comprised of a country that is “democratic, decentralized, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious.” During the first four years of the interim period, members of both the National Legislative  Assembly in Khartoum and the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly in Juba will be appointed by the political parties   participating in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on a proportional formula. The dominant National Congress Party is to have 52% of the National Assembly seats and Council of Ministers’ posts.

As the principal coalition partner, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement will have 28% in both instances, while the other Northern parties are together given 14% and other Southern parties 6%. Under the arrangement, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army has become the armed forces of South Sudan under the President of South
Sudan and their Commander-in-Chief.

The 30 concurrent powers between the national government and the government of South Sudan include, among others:
• Economic and Social Development in South Sudan
• Legal and other professions and their associations
• Tertiary education
• Health policy
• Urban development, planning, and housing
• Trade, commerce, industry, and industrial development
• Delivery of public services
• Banking and insurance
• Bankruptcy and insolvency
• Manufacturing licenses
• Airports
Southern Sudan and State Courts are responsible for applying national laws. South Sudan will have its own judicial up to Supreme Court level and operate its own police forces, prisons, and wildlife services. However, National police
will have jurisdiction in the South in collaboration with South Sudan’s police officers. The South will also have a branch of the Central Bank of Sudan and will not be obligated to operate a Sharia-based financial system. The
South’s Council of Ministers and members of the Southern Legislative Assembly are empowered to submit bills to the latter. Council of Ministers’ members may attend legislative sessions but have no voting rights therein.
It is stipulated in the Interim National Constitution that the National Congress will give 7% of its allotted posts in the premises to Southerners, while the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement offers 25% of its posts to Northerners, consistent with the party’s board national composition.

South Sudan’s constitution guarantees women 25% of the region’s Council of Ministers and Legislative posts.
Revenue from oil produced from Southern fields will be shared on a 50/50 basis between the  Government of South Sudan and the Federal Government. In this connection, the constitution provides for a National Petroleum Commission, composed of the President of the Republic and President of the Government of South Sudan as co-chairs, four permanent members from both the national and southern governments, and not more than 3 non-permanent members representing oil producing states. The constitution, moreover, provides for a Future
Generation Fund to be established, should oil production attain one million barrels per day.

In the realm of criminal justice, it is stipulated: “No death penalty shall be imposed, save as retribution or punishment for extremely serious offenses by law.” Persons under 18 years of age, pregnant women and suckling women, and persons over 70 years of age are also exempted from death penalty, except in murder cases where the family of the victim insists on mortal retribution. Persons accused of an offense are under the law innocent until proven guilty and persons arrested must be confronted with the charges against them and provided facility for
release, as well as dignified treatment.

The constitution also guarantees inviolable privacy with respect to private life, family, home, and correspondences, save in accordance with law. The constitution provides a judicial hierarchy both nationally and in the South, starting from courts of first instance, to appellate courts, to the Supreme Court. It also provides a Constitutional Court, where aggrieved persons, who have exhausted means of grievance and complaint to the executive and administrative
organs of government, may by due process submit their cases for restoration of rights.

The constitution mandates the state to emancipate women and encourage them in both family and public life. In keeping with this article, Sudan’s judiciary is partially staffed with women judges up to the Supreme Court. The constitution also recognizes the role of private advocates in court and, again, many of them are women.

In both the South and nationally, the Judiciary is headed by a Chief Justice, who is ex officio president of the Supreme Court and Supreme Council of the Judiciary. He and his associate justices are appointed by the President of the Republic. All other judges are appointed by the President of the Republic upon recommendations from the Supreme Council of the Judiciary.

The National Constitution specifically encourages development of science, arts, and culture, as well as sports and public health. It charges the state with an obligation to enact laws that protect society from corruption, delinquency,
and social evils and steer the society as a whole towards virtuous social values consistent with religions and cultures of Sudan.

In the economic realm, both the National and Southern Constitutions dedicate government for eradication of poverty and attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, guaranteeing equitable distribution of wealth and achieving
a decent standard of life for all citizens.

The Constitutions imply that, within five years, there will be general elections, in which all state governors and legislative assemblymen will be elected via universal suffrage. Presumably, the presidency will also be contested; the constitution that a person may not hold the presidency for more than two five-year terms.

A candidate for the presidency is required to be (1) Sudanese by birth ((2) of sound mind (3)at least forty years of age (4) literate and (5) not previously for the last seven years convicted of an offense involving honour or honesty.

In legislative matters, the President of the Republic may return a proposed bill back to the National Assembly with recommendations he deems necessary for his approval. But, if he neither signs nor returns a bill passed by the
legislature within 30 days, it automatically becomes law. The President may propose amendments to the  constitution, but any amendment must be passed by two thirds of the National Assembly before it comes into
force. If the president rejects a bill, the National Assembly may, nonetheless, pass it by a two thirds majority.

The Constitution prescribes for each state a legislative assembly, which like the National Assembly, is invested with a measure of investigative powers. The scope of state assembly authority is invariable throughout Sudan and based on the scope of the National Assembly in national affairs.