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Sudan’s military council want protesters to back Sharia legal system

Ashraf Shazly, AFP | Protesters gather to break their fast outside the army headquarters in Khartoum on May 7 on the second day of Ramadan. Demonstrators remain camped out in the heat calling for civilian rule three weeks after Omar al-Bashir's ouster.

Sudan's army rulers Tuesday stated that Islamic law should remain the guiding principle in the legal system, after protest leaders made no mention of Sharia law when handing in their demands for the future of their country.

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The 10-member military council, which seized control of the country after president Omar al-Bashir was deposed in April, was given the plans for a new political and cultural beginning for the country by civilian activists.

The military council told reporters that the generals overall agreed to the proposals but had "many reservations". These included that the protesters had not included Islamic Sharia law in their proposals.

"The declaration failed to mention the sources of legislation, and the Islamic Sharia law and tradition should be the source of legislation," Lieutenant General Shamseddine Kabbashi, spokesman for the military council, told reporters at a press conference.

Tensions remain between military and activists

Under Bashir, Sharia law was enforced on a haphazard and inconsistent basis, despite it being the constitution’s guiding principle.

However, thousands of women were flogged for "indecent behaviour," according to women's rights activists.

Kabbashi said the military council was also of the opinion that declarations of emergencies be in the hands of a "sovereign" authority and not the cabinet as proposed by protest leaders. However, what exactly this "sovereign" body would be is as yet unclear and has yet to be discussed with the protest leaders.

Tension has been mounting as the military council and protest leaders have differed on the composition of an overall ruling council, with protest leaders demanding it be a civilian majority while the generals insist it should be a military-dominated body.

Kabbashi said that the military council wanted a two year transition period as opposed to the four years proposed by protest leaders.

Protestors want ‘full civilian authority’

Protest leaders confirmed they had received the military council's response to their proposals.

"It will be considered in the coming hours," said Mohamed Naji al-Assam, a leader from the Sudanese Professionals Association that initially launched the campaign against Bashir's rule in December.

But he reiterated that Sudan must have full civilian rule.

"The solution and success of the revolution lies on a transfer of power to a full civilian authority," he said.

Protest leaders have often referred to the military rulers as the "remnants of the regime" of Bashir.

However, Lieutenant General Yasser al-Atta, who also attended the press conference along with Kabbashi late on Tuesday, said, “We are not heirs to the former regime."

Arrests of old intelligence apparatus

Kabbashi revealed that Sudan's former head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service, Salah Ghosh, had been put under house arrest.

It was Ghosh who oversaw security agents' sweeping crackdown on protesters before the fall of Bashir.

Dozens of protesters were killed in the crackdown, hundreds wounded and thousands jailed.

It was also revealed that four members of the military council had resigned and that the military council was dismantling an unofficial militia group operated by Bashir’s party, known as Popular Security.

This came after Sudanese forces seized explosives belts, guns, remote detonators and satellite telephones in a raid on a property in the capital Khartoum, on Monday, which the military council said belonged to this Popular Security group.

Protests for civilian rule continue

A committee of doctors associated with the protest movement said Saturday that at least 90 people have been killed in Sudan since the beginning of the movement on December 19, 2018. It’s far higher than the official count of 65 deaths.

Thousands of protesters meanwhile remain encamped outside the army complex in central Khartoum, demanding that the army rulers step down and hand over power to a civilian administration.

The generals took power after the army ousted Bashir on April 11 following months of protests against his iron-fisted rule.

But since then the military council has resisted calls for handing over power to civilians, the main demand of protesters.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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