Sudan forms sovereign council to lead transition

Sudanese celebrate in Khartoum after generals and protest leaders signed a historic agreement meant to pave the way for civilian rule in the country. (AFP)
Updated 21 August 2019

Sudan forms sovereign council to lead transition

  • Ruling body to be composed of 11 members, including 5 from the military
  • The council was created under a power-sharing deal

KHARTOUM: Sudan's generals and protest leaders on Tuesday formed the sovereign council that will steer the country through three years of transition towards civilian rule.
The body replaces the Transitional Military Council that took over from longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir when he was forced from power in April amid relentless protests.
The former president appeared in court Monday, sitting in a cage to face graft charges — a sight that the two thirds of Sudan's 40 million inhabitants who were born under his rule could hardly have imagined.
The very first steps of the transition to civilian rule after 30 years of Bashir's regime proved difficult however with disagreements within the protest camp holding up the formation of Sudan's new ruling body for two days.
The names of the joint civilian-military council's 11 members were eventually announced late Tuesday by the spokesman of the TMC.
The council includes five members of the military and will be headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who was already the head of the TMC.
"The president of the sovereign council will be sworn in tomorrow morning at 11:00 am (0900 GMT)," TMC spokesman Shamseddine Kabbashi said in a short televised address.
Burhan will head the council for the first 21 months and a civilian will take over for the remaining 18 months of the transitional period, which is due to end in 2022 with democratic elections.
Among the six civilian members of the new ruling council are two women, one of them from Sudan's Christian minority.

The protest camp last week picked Abdalla Hamdok, a former UN economist based in Addis Ababa, as transitional prime minister. He will be formally appointed on Wednesday.
The transition's key documents were signed on Saturday at a ceremony attended by a host of foreign dignitaries, signalling that Sudan could be on its way to shedding the pariah status it had taken on through years of devastating war in Darfur.
But amidst the euphoria celebrating the promise of civilian rule, unease was palpable within the protest camp that brought about one of the most crucial changes in Sudan's modern history.
One reason is the omnipresence in the transition of Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, a paramilitary commander and one of the signatories of the documents, whose forces are blamed for the deadly repression of the protests.
Sudanese women, who played a leading role in the protests, have also expressed their shock at female under-representation in the transition.
Every newspaper in Sudan made its headlines with Bashir's landmark court appearance Tuesday.
Some of them carried pictures of the ousted ruler in his courtroom cage, an image that instantly became another symbol of his military regime's downfall.
Large amounts of cash were found at his residence after he was toppled and police investigator Ahmed Ali said the case brought before the court concerned some of that money.
"The accused told us that the money was part of a sum of $25 million sent to him by Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be used outside of the state budget," he said.
On the streets of Khartoum, residents were not trying to hide their contentment at seeing their longtime tormentor in the dock.
"Bashir has done a lot against us in 30 years," said Fatma Abdallah Hussein, a young medical student who took part in the protests earlier this year.
"Hunger, lack of education, what he did in Darfur and other issues, it is for these things we took to the streets, faced the teargas and the harassment," she said.
Alhaj Adam, a Khartoum resident, argued that Bashir's corruption trial should not distract from the need for the new administration to ratify the Rome Statute.
That would allow the former ruler's transfer to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces charges over the war in Darfur that erupted in 2003.
"The evidence he committed genocide should come forward... Many civilians inside and outside Sudan have died because of him and he should face justice," Adam said.
 


Lebanon’s parliamentary blocs to help Hariri form new government

Updated 23 October 2020

Lebanon’s parliamentary blocs to help Hariri form new government

  • Lawmakers emphasize need to expedite reform process
  • Parliamentary blocs that met Hariri expressed a sense of optimism and cooperation

BEIRUT: Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri on Friday held consultations with lawmakers about the new government he will form.
He held the non-binding meetings at the parliament’s headquarters despite the damage it suffered after the Beirut Port explosion on Aug. 4.
There were tough security measures at entrances leading to parliament and there were no protests nearby, despite activists’ anger about Hariri’s nomination to lead the country. He resigned a year ago as prime minister following massive demonstrations against Lebanon’s political elite. 
“Hariri is sticking to forming a government of non-party member specialists whose mission is to implement economic, financial, and administrative reforms as cited by the French initiative, which the parliamentary blocs vowed to support,” sources close to Hariri told Arab News. “Hariri listened to the points of view of the lawmakers, noting that since his nomination he has not talked to anyone about details related to the government which he intends to form.”
Parliamentary blocs that met Hariri expressed a sense of optimism and cooperation, especially those that did not nominate him on Thursday to form the government. Representatives of these blocs were unanimous in emphasizing the importance of speeding up the reform process to save the country from its economic crisis.
“Talks were straightforward and open,” lawmaker Gebran Bassil said after his meeting. “There is no personal problem with Hariri and we are extremely positive, and we are concerned in implementing the reforms cited by the French proposal.”
He asked that reforms start with a forensic investigation and the imposition of capital control, and to agree on a joint program with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“The priority is for qualified people and we wait for what President Michel Aoun and Hariri will agree on, so that we determine our stance toward forming the government, noting that we are ready to facilitate the process.”
Lawmaker Mohammed Raad, head of Hezbollah parliamentary bloc, said after his Hariri meeting: “We tendered our point of view regarding the role of the government, and this is something that we consented on to a large extent. We discussed reform issues related to administration, the judiciary, and control agencies, calling for rectifying the financial and banking situation, in addition to other issues cited in the French initiative which we vowed to support 90 percent of them. We advised to adopt a method whereas each minister would hold one portfolio so that he would be capable of sorting out its problems. We advised not to have a small government, and to have between 22 and 24 ministers, and expressed our readiness to cooperate.”
Former Prime Minister Tammam Salam said he hoped that the government would be formed by a harmonious team to implement the required reforms during a three to six month period. “Parliament is there to question and hold accountability, in addition to follow up all government actions, and this cannot be achieved during this period in a traditional way as if things are all fine in the country.”
Dr. Nasser Yassin said that the spirit of openness and cooperation after a period of acrimony and accusation was about maintaining a minimum level of stability in Lebanon within the framework of the French initiative.
“The collapse of Lebanon affects neighboring countries, and we have already seen refugee boats sailing in the direction of Cyprus,” he told Arab News. “Nobody wants to increase the crises of the region, the crises of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya are enough, and what is needed is to maintain a minimum stability in Lebanon. I do not see new equations.”
He added that what was happening in Lebanon was the failure of some in leading the country, the attempts of some parties to undermine the role of other parties, and the game to save the political order while maintaining the same political behavior.