In The Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful
Recommendations of the Khartoum Dialogue (ALWATHBA) on Scale*
By: Imam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi
On the anniversary of a revolution, which through general strike and popular uprising toppled the first dictatorship that disrupted democratic development in Sudan for six years; I am pleased to comment on the aspirations of the third dictatorship to reshoot itself in a new image through a consensual National Dialogue.
The National Document issued after the Khartoum Dialogue this month is characterized by rhetoric phrases, it had a false claim that the meeting was inclusive and well-attended, while everyone knows that the non-participating political forces were outweighing, and that the non-Sudanese guest attendees were witnesses who are unacquainted with the National Dialogue facts (like a witness who saw nothing), rather, the deliberately absent guests were the most important ones.
The document eliminated many of the specific recommendations regarding an environment conducive for Dialogue, governance, peace and the intended Constitution. It ignored what its six committees provided for regarding these issues in their recommendations.
The worst sense of the document is that it regarded its Dialogue as the dialogue’s dead end. It completely betrayed the meaning of inclusive dialogue, and betrayed commitment of the Sudanese Regime to the Roadmap signed in March 2016.
Therefore, this document caused a National, Regional and International shock. It is responsible for the angry rejecting responses. As though, this document has articulated the position of a dominant group in the National Congress Party (NCP), regarding the National Dialogue as a new dress to wear and continue marching in a new coating.
The Dialogue then issued the classified recommendations. Recommendations which we carefully studied and herein we put these recommendations on the scale of conducive environment for dialogue, requirements of just and comprehensive peace, fundamentals of good governance and principles of the intended Democratic Constitution.
The classified recommendations amounted to about 500. Among those, the recommendations relating to the agenda of conducive environment, abandoning empowerment, peace, good governance, the intended Constitution and principles of general reform, which are the backbone of the National Dialogue concerns, are limited to only one hundred.
The following recommendations will meet wide acceptance nationally, regionally, and internationally.
I will include them in 10 sections:
Section I: Recommendations relating to abandoning notorious empowerment practices, which dismantled the national fabric in Sudan, including:
- De-politicizing the Native Administration.
- Reforming civil society organizations which were politicized in turn.
- Public office in a State of Right and Duty and Honor is obtained for efficiency and honesty, there shall be no discrimination in appointments due to political color, sex, disability, tribe, region or belief.
- The State must immediately forgo its involvement in trade.
- Public servants are chosen for their qualifications, competence and experience, while allocating a share for each State in the country according to its population gravity.
- Review the past procedures of privatization and the sales of public assets in terms of their fairness and transparency.
- The culture of arms holding led to insecurity in universities. There should be a culture of accepting the others, rehabilitating the relationship between students and their university professors, enacting strict laws preventing violence within universities and solving the problems of poor students by establishing a loan-fund for them to be refunded after graduation.
- Rapid Support, Popular Defense, Boarder Guard and Armed Movements Forces should be integrated in the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and the popular police should be integrated in the Unified Police.
- Cancellation of special courts, special prosecutions, Terrorism courts and their organizing rules. A citizen should be tried before his/ her natural judge according to the fair law.
- Commit the National Security and Intelligence Service (NISS) to exercising its powers and missions in accordance with the Constitution and laws (this point is acceptable only within a democratic constitution and laws’ framework, since the current constitution, especially after the 2005 amendments, gives NISS undue powers; and the current laws likewise do).
- Distance SAF from any political, ideological and regional disputes.
- Stop harnessing the resources of the State in support of the ruling party institutions.
- Review of the existing laws and harmonize them with the Constitution.
There are other topics under the title of “empowerment abolition”; it is an issue calling for a special Commission added to the required commissions.
Section II: Necessary Procedures for a conducive environment for dialogue. As outlined in the recommendations these were:
- The release of all political prisoners.
- Ensuring political freedoms and full warranty of freedom of expression and publication.
- Avoid hate speech and media bickering between dialogue parties.
- Pursuing the necessary guarantees of personal safety to arms holders so that they can engage in dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire involving full security arrangements.
- General amnesty and release of individuals, military and civilians, who were detained or tried because of conflicts.
- Immediate cessation of hostilities and a permanent ceasefire.
These six recommendations are important for a conducive environment, nonetheless, they are lacking a recommendation relating to humanitarian aid access to its eligible recipients, through means applying the United Nations standards, i.e. it should be administered by autonomous impartial mechanisms.
Section III: Identity:
- Ensuring equal citizenship and belonging, recognition of cultural diversity and adopting cultural and social diversity and plurality for all Sudanese groups whose values, added to these principles, will form the essence of Sudanese identity.
- Recognize that what brings Sudanese together, those who belong to the geographical area called Sudan, is their Sudanism.
- Ethnic groups have the right of recognizing their local languages, teaching these languages and granting them access to media broadcasts.
These recommendations cease the attempt to jump over social reality so as to enforce a unilateral identity, which was one reason of failure in diversity management. However, they are short of drawing specific policies to ensure efficacy of this new trend in the realms of education curricula, media, civil service and regular forces; aiming at achieving cultural equality, eradicating racism and forgoing the doctrine and policies of hatred. This is what we have proposed before in a Cultural Charter to be part of the Nation-building documents.
Section IV: The peace section included the following recommendations:
- Establishment of a National Council for Peace and Development for the war affected areas in all parts of Sudan. This council shall be tasked with supervising and coordinating development efforts and attracting local and international support for these areas.
- Positive discrimination of the war affected areas.
- Building a new Political Contract reinforcing political stability and criminalizing violence, injustice and marginalization.
- Positive discrimination for the regions and groups suffering from rights’ marginalization and respect of their cultural specificities in accordance with the international conventions and norms.
- Recognition of cultural, ethnic and religious plurality of the State of Sudan.
- Restoring lands, unjustly expropriated by usurpers during times of insecurity, to their owners.
- Protection of IDP camps and regularization of refugees is the State duty. Also their rights for peace, security, voluntary repatriation to their natural homes.
- The right for adopting the principle of positive discrimination in development for war-affected and least developed areas.
- The right to realizing the principle of truth and reconciliation for resolving the country’s matters.
- Restoring lands which were settled by others in the war zones to their owners; and abstaining from forced displacement of populations.
Section V: Commissions: Among the important mechanisms is assigning specific issues to commissions of national reference, most important are:
- Establishment, by a constitutional provision, of an independent Anti-corruption Commission, provided that it is completely independent from the executive.
- Establishment of a National Commission for Revenues Allocation to allocate resources between the center and the states, so that each state’s legislative council elects its delegate as a member of the commission. (Noting that the current legislative councils are deformed).
- Creation of an autonomous Media Commission with impartial character that is run by qualified specialists whose proficiency is based on the national dialogue outputs.
- Creation of a national Commission for Distribution of Wealth between the different levels of Government.
- An independent Electoral Commission.
These are good proposals, but their implementation mechanisms are problematic, since the Interim Constitution already provided for independent commissions, but the implementation mechanism fell in the hands of quotas dominated by the NCP, which deformed them to be nominally autonomous and actually heteronomous.
Section VI: National Approach in addressing national issues:
- Establishing a constitutional, political and social setup in an all-Sudanese consensual framework.
- Cooperation and collaboration of all Sudanese to overcome all Sudan’s crises.
- Consensus upon a Constitution and laws ensuring freedom, rights and social justice, and agreeing upon independent mechanisms for their protection.
- Consensus upon necessary legislations and procedures to run fair elections under the supervision of an independent Commission.
- Develop guidelines for National Dialogue, the most important of which is inclusivity both in participation and themes, transparency and commitment to implement its outputs.
- The national nature of state institutions, especially the Military Academy, the Police and NISS, in order to accommodate the multi-ethnic nature of the country, rather than the current quota system.
- Ensuring the national nature of audio-visual and print media. To eschew unilateralism in media, it should disseminate all the diverse Sudanese cultures of all ethnic groups.
- Establishment of a national council for foreign policy to contribute to policy-making. Also contributes to the promotion and development of the structures, orientation and effectiveness of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Keenness to form national consensus on foreign policy, so that no individual party can privately prescribe it according to its ideological or partisan views.
- Ensuring that civil service and regular forces are national and impartial and the abolition of the “tribe” entry in official documents.
Section VII: The Constitution:
- Principles of Sudanese identity are integrated in the Constitution as a social contract. All Sudanese groups should participate in making that contract and agree upon it.
- Human Rights as outlined in the international conventions should be integrated within the Constitutional provisions.
- Adoption of a Constitution that stems from people and voices them.
- Citizenship is the basis and guideline for all rights and duties to all the Sudanese.
- Freedom of thought, belief and religious rites without coercion or restraint.
- Application of principles of transparency, accountability, auditing, institutionalization and the rule of law.
- Freedoms of expression, association, assembly, movement and of participation in public life.
- The Peoples right in drafting an agreed upon constitution to be ratified by a constituent or national assembly, and then by a popular referendum, as a means of protecting the Constitution.
- Citizenship is the basis for rights and freedoms of all Sudanese.
- Separation of judicial, legislative and executive powers.
- Protection of public freedoms and civil rights.
- Freedoms and rights are not restricted by any law, other than the constitution.
- Freedom of belief, worship and doctrines: Every human being has the right to freedom of belief, worship and ceremonies in accordance with fair law regulations and no one shall be coerced to a religion that he/she does not believe in.
- Everyone has the right to free expression through means of public discourse, print and audio- visual publication; and to demonstrate in a procession to extend his/her views; and to express what he/she represents in the public opinion and public audience scenes, all in accordance with a just law monitored by the judiciary to weigh between freedom of expression and immunity of all people from honor violations or defamation, and between society’s peace and morals and the demonstrations and shouting scenes.
- Freedom of assembly and association: society members are allowed to extend their assembly and association ties in organizations, religious sects, dialogue forums, political parties, trade partnerships, charitable cooperatives and trade unions.
- Ensuring the autonomy and democracy of the trade union movement and the right of public and private sector employees to organize, nominate and elect representatives defending their rights, according to the regulations of a fair law.
- Ensuring the guarantee of personal and public freedoms and human rights and observe the dissemination of freedoms and rights culture in the Sudanese society.
- Providing for the constitutionality control of laws.
- Ensuring the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary and the Constitutional Court.
- The elected Constituent Assembly approves the new Permanent Constitution.
- Presidential System should be adopted in which the President of the Republic is directly elected by the people, and the creation of a Prime Minister post mandated with all executive powers.
Section VIII: Governance:
There are two acceptable principles:
First: until the adoption of the sought Constitution, the country is administered by a National Consensus Government (NCG), which is formed after the completion of the Comprehensive National Dialogue.
Second: this NCG is committed to all the mentioned constitutional reforms during the interim period, occurring between the formation of the NCG and the adoption of the aspired Constitution.
Such Constitutional reforms could be introduced as amendments to the Interim Constitution or by stipulated constitutional decrees.
Section IX: General Principles:
Indisputable general principles that are mentioned in the recommendations included:
- Adoption of a flexible economic system combining principles of economic freedom and social justice.
- Ensure the freedom of economic activity.
- Adoption of a mixed economic system in Sudan.
- There are privileges and merits in the Sudan-South Sudan encounter, so dealing with South Sudan should be given priority.
- Minimize the impact of economic embargo and solve the problem of foreign debt.
- Improve relations with the United States.
- Lift the economic embargo on Sudan.
- Establish a welfare state by strengthening and expanding social protection and social welfare mechanisms.
- Ensuring the state responsibility towards free education for all levels of education. And that education should be compulsory in the basic level.
- Realize that, because of the increased international concern about human rights issues, there are new international values challenging the traditional concept of national sovereignty, and that these developments should be taken into account.
- Seek to reform international institutions, particularly the Security Council, so as to become more reflective of the diversity enjoyed by the Human Community, giving greater strength and powers to the General Assembly.
- Continue efforts to normalize relations with the United States so as to lift sanctions and lift the name of Sudan from the list of State sponsors of terrorism.
- Raise the education budget to a sufficient proportion within the state budget allowing for competent education system; the ratio should be not less than 6%. (Albeit this is short of what was recommended by a recent education conference in Sudan stating that it should be at least 8%, and short of the commitment made by Sudan in Dakar Declaration, 2000, to enhanceeducation budget up to 7% of GDP by 2015).
- Compliance with the World time zone.
- Granting equal opportunities in public media for political forces to present their platforms.
- Adopting good governance standards for the fairness and transparency of the elections.
- Abstain from utilizing state mechanisms in support of a candidate or a party.
Section X: Implementation:
- Forming the NCG after three months of approving the recommendations in the General Conference of the Comprehensive National Dialogue. (This text becomes acceptable in the case that ‘comprehensive’ means including the non-represented forces in the Khartoum Friendship Hall dialogue).
- Establishing a High Coordinating Body is an acceptable idea in case that body is representative of all components of the comprehensive national dialogue.
- Following-up implementation of the Comprehensive Dialogue outcomes is not limited to participants in the dialogue closing in October 2016.
Topics absent from the classified recommendations are:
- The need to allocate a minimum budget for health as with education (According to Sudan’s commitment with the African countries in Abuja Declaration in 2001, at least 15% of their annual budgets should be spent on healthcare).
- The need to add to the procedures of conducive environment, ensuring humanitarian aid access to eligible recipients.
- The need to add to peace-building an article related to transitional justice.
- The need to agree upon dams problems as one of the important demands.
- The need to recognize the large size of displacement of workers in the civil, judicial and regular services and to form a competent commission for their redress.
Certain positions are unacceptable on the scale of justice and the legitimate national demands:
First: the recommendations consider the status quo in terms of the executive, legislative and judicial authorities as valid, so they can exercise their powers during the reign of the NCG. This means maintaining the conditions which proliferated wars and divisions in the body politic. Seriousness necessitates reviewing these powers and agreeing on the needed reforms.
Second: The Islamic Dossier was derived from a Muslim Brothers reference. An aim and purpose-oriented reference is required:
- It is wrong to consider interest rate as usury and consider the so called Islamic banking practices as correct. Controlled interest rate is not usury and the current so called Islamic practices are more exploitive of the vulnerable, prohibit borrowing which is necessary for development, and allow dealing with the global banking interest rate which is considered usury, i.e. using double standards.
- Stating that Islam, customs and venerable beliefs are sources of legislation in the State of Sudan is a backward text, which opens a gateway for recessive interpretations in the name of Islam, and for customs and beliefs that are against human rights and against morality, while the correct purpose-oriented text is the following text describing sources of legislation as: dignity, freedom, justice, equality, peace, deterring offenders and commitment to contracts as prescribed by the Definitive Quranic texts; and Human experiences committed to those objectives; and venerable beliefs and customs sponsors of morality.
- Texting on realizing democracy and Shura should be avoided since this highlights the Islamic-secular duality, rather provide for a Government system that achieves participation, accountability, transparency and the rule of law.
Third: The recommendations provide for a national dialogue engaging all stakeholders to address national core issues, which is a required national purpose, however, they limit dialogue to those who already participated in it, while shutting the door before the nationally, regionally and internationally authenticated commitment to the Roadmap signed in March and August 2016.
The betrayal of this obligation deprives the dialogue process from any seriousness or inclusiveness.
The Roadmap provides for the following:
- Acknowledges the dialogue process which began in Khartoum in October 2015.
- Acknowledges that this process did not include certain political forces.
- Calling for a meeting of the representatives of that process, and those who did not participate in it, so as to achieve inclusivity in dialogue, which is considered necessary by everyone.
- The parties signatories to the Roadmap acknowledge that recommendations determining the fate of Sudan should stem from a consensual process.
Sudanese Regime, which signed this Roadmap, is obliged to abide by what it signed. If the Regime betrayed this commitment it will lose its credibility at a critical stage of the National Dialogue. Thus justifying for the concerned parties to pursue whatever they see suitable to achieve the legitimate demands of the People of Sudan.
Fourth: All benefits claimed by these recommendations: lifting of Sudan from the list of State sponsors of terrorism, lifting economic sanctions, relief of the foreign debt and normalization with international financial institutions will depend on the achievement of just and comprehensive peace and transition to democracy, and ensuring human rights, which are attainable targets if the regime observed two things:
Firstly: Internal dialogue recommendations.
Secondly: The roadmap demands.
Aspiring to achieve these benefits is impossible without fulfilling these two things, even if friendly governments thus promised, since the powers of these governments are limited by legislatures, judicial controls and public opinion.
Tough speeches enflamed since the completion of the Friendship Hall dialogue, leading to more polarization, while the purposes of national dialogue is to move towards a new climate of peace, consensual governance and democratic constitution, but what happened after the publication of the dialogue recommendations and the following speeches distorted the political climate.
This study aspires to cause all players to restore objectivity, if all missed this purpose and the scene deteriorates towards polarization, then the Peoples’ Lord and the Peoples’ history will not forgive those who were the cause for missing the opportunity of Nation saving from dangers.
The political scene in Sudan today is between those who are blinded by power and sees in dialogue nothing but the benefit of their continuation, and those who reject dialogue in essence aspiring for an uprising which in inevitable with the deteriorating situation, but given the variety and antagonism of armed formations, no one knows what it yields. Those are the zero sum formula supporters.
Others, no matter how of different positions, realize that the situation lost its continuation viability; they see that a prerequisites’ fulfilling National Dialogue is the very way to just and comprehensive peace, democratic transformation and a Government which isolates no one and is dominated by no one. These are the win-win formula supporters.
We will save the win-win formula as much as we can unless the other formula is imposed on us.
(Surely you do not guide whomever you love, but Allah guides whomever He decides, and He knows best the ones (who are) rightly-guided). Quran,28:56
* Translated from the original text in Arabic