Sudan coup: Which constitutional articles have been suspended?

Sudan’s military leader has declared a nationwide state of emergency and dissolved the transitional cabinet and the Sudan Sovereign Council.

The sovereign council is a joint military and civilian body created after the removal of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019 amid widespread protests led by the Forces of Freedom and Change movement. It was established to lead the country until democratic elections to be held in 2023.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Monday said the military will continue the process towards democracy and elections in 2023, but he also announced the suspension of several articles related to the constitutional document governing the transitional period.

“We have started our path towards the state of freedom and peace but some political powers are still trying to maintain everything in their hands, without giving attention to political, economic and social threats,” he said.

But according to Article 78 of the constitutional document, amendments or suspensions to the document require the support of two-thirds of the members of the Transitional Legislative Council.

Here is a look at the articles suspended by Burhan and the potential significance of the moves:

Article 11 relates to the formation of the Transitional Sovereign Council

Article 11.1

It states that the Transitional Sovereign Council is the head of the state and the symbol of its sovereignty and unity, and it is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces, and other regular forces. The sovereign council is formed by consensus between the Transitional Military Council and the civilian-led Forces of Freedom and Change.

Article 11.2

It states that the sovereign council consists of 11 members: five civilians chosen by the Forces of Freedom and Change, and five chosen by the Transitional Military Council. The eleventh member is a civilian chosen by consensus between the Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change.

Article 11.3

For the first 21 months of the transitional period, the sovereign council is chaired by those chosen by the military members. For the remaining 18 months of the transitional period – which begins on November 17, 2021 – it is headed by a civilian member chosen by the five civilian members chosen by the Forces of Freedom and Change.

By cancelling this article, Burhan will effectively be the head of the state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, with the right to announce an alternative council independent of its partners in the Forces of Freedom and Change.

Article 12 relates to the powers of the sovereign council

Article 12 states that the sovereign council can declare a state of war based on the recommendation of the Security and Defence Council.

The powers of the abolished council also include approving final death sentences issued by the judicial authority in accordance with the law, and dropping the penalty or conviction according to the law.

Al-Burhan has previously stated his opposition to extraditing the former President Omar al-Bashir, who is sought by the International Criminal Court, and called instead for his trial to be held in Sudan.

Article 15 relates to the formation of the transitional cabinet

Article 15.1

Article 15 stipulates that the Council of Ministers consists of a prime minister and 20 ministers of independent national competencies, appointed by the prime minister from a list of candidates belonging to the Forces of Freedom and Change and approved by them. However, the ministers of defence and interior are nominated by the military members of the sovereign council.

Article 15.2

The Forces of Freedom and Change choose the prime minister and the sovereign council appoints him.

Article 15.3

The collective and individual responsibility of the ministers is carried out under the Council of Ministers.

By cancelling this article, al-Burhan has the right to form a new government with a broad base and from “efficient and independent elements”, he said on Monday. The general has previously accused the Forces of Freedom and Change partners of monopolising power, and held them responsible for the failure to manage the transitional period.

Article 16 includes the cancelled powers of the prime minister and his membership

Article 16.1

This provides the implementation of the tasks of the transitional period in accordance with the programme of the Forces of Freedom and Change.

Article 16.2
This gives power to the prime minister to stop wars and conflicts and build peace efforts.

Article 16.3
This concerns the responsibility of proposing draft laws, the draft state budget, international treaties, and bilateral and multilateral agreements.

Article 16.4
This has to do with developing plans, programmes and policies for the civil service.

Article 16.5
This concerns the formation of independent national commissions.

Article 16.6
This has to do with appointing civil service leaders and monitoring and directing the work of state agencies.

Article 24.3, the structural formation of the legislative council

Al-Burhan also cancelled 24.3, which stipulates that 67 percent of the Transitional Legislative Council is chosen by the Forces of Freedom and Change. The remaining 33 percent is chosen by the other civilian forces after consulting the military members in the sovereign council.

In his speech on Monday, Burhan pledged to form a legislative council that encompasses all the political forces in Sudan, as well as allowing the participation of the youth who took part in the protest movement.

Article 71 states the constitutional document is derived from political agreement

The provisions of the constitution are derived from the political agreement for governance structures in the transitional period signed between the Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change.

Article 72 stipulates the dissolution of the military council

This text opens the way for the military council to return to play roles in the next phase of the transitional period.

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