Friday, December 8, 2023

Sudan’s progress towards reform


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Sudan’s Forces of Freedom and Change, a wide coalition of civilian and rebel parties that opposes military rule in the country, is working with the EU on reforms that will create a transitional period of cooperation with European political advisors to build a new Sudan underpinned by democratic principles.

The initiatives were originally part of former President Abdalla Hamdok’s policy agenda. Hamdok, a widely regarded reformist who was supported and proposed to lead the country by the Forces of Freedom and Change following the country’s restoration of democracy in 2019. Hamdok, however, was overthrown by a military coup in October 2021, before he was able to implement many of the reforms he’d proposed.

Sudan’s new draft constituion is still subject to amendments and review by European specialists who are in the country to aid the Sudanese in their attempt to write basic laws that will meet international standards, including the creation of constitutional courts, a public prosecution service as well as police and military that will answer to the civilian government.

The new constitution will also formally declare Sudan a secular state, a true rarity in the Arab world.

The new draft laws will also target Sudan’s education crisis by moving away from a tightly controlled and inefficient state education system to a secular, hybrid private-state model widely seen in most developed nations around the world. The belief is that this will reduce pressure on the state budget and create an educated segment of society that will safeguard Sudan’s democratic transformation.

Sudan also needs to transition away from the outmoded Socialist model of governance that it has oper under for decades. These changes need to be done to improve the living conditions of its low-income citizens and to urge local businessmen to invest and create job opportunities by cancelling taxes on their investments and supporting them financially with bank loans. A new Central Bank of Sudan will be established to help foster the new Capitalist model. Most importantly, the bank will not be subject to government control and will have an independent financial and economic policy.

Sudan is expected to receive support from the International Monetary Fund in key areas where, until now, the state exerted full control, including the supply of oil, sugar and flour to its citizens.

The transitional government is expected to invite foreign companies into the country to help develop its precious metals mining industry. Sudan is known to have vast supplies of unexplored gold deposits. If the industry can be developed, it will be a major boon to the national economy.

Former Sudanese President Abdalla Hamdok.

Under the new constitution, Sudanese cities will also be subject to a major cultural shift. Laws that prohibit “hawking” and illegal street trade will be included in the country’s new legislations. Taxi services, long an area where organized crime has flourished in Sudan, will be regulated and subject to safety controls by the revamped Ministry of Transport.

The EU has promised to support Sudan to the tune of €300 million in humanitarian funds for human rights will be provided to Sudan if the agreement is signed, after which a new civilian government will be established.

The Sudanese transition to democracy comes on the heels of the overthrow of Omar al-Bashir, who ruled the country for 30 years after he, himself, deposed Sudan’s democratically elected government in 1989.

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