Sudanese take to the streets calling for new judicial appointments

Rally in Khartoum to pressure ruling council into sacking judiciary chief and general prosecutor

epa07837630 Sudanese people gather during a protest calling for the appointment of new chief of judiciary and prosecutor general in Khartoum, Sudan, 12 September 2019. According to media reports, thousands marched in Khartoum calling for judicial reforms including the appointment of new chief of judiciary and prosecutor general.  EPA/MARWAN ALI
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Thousands of Sudanese rallied in the capital Khartoum on Thursday, demanding the chief of the judiciary and general prosecutor be removed because of claimed links to removed former president Omar Al Bashir.

Sudan’s Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the umbrella coalition representing different pro-democracy parties and groups, called for a “million-man march”.

The action was to pressure the civilian-military Sovereign Council, formed last month as part of a power-sharing deal between protesters and the generals, to appoint judges known for their competence and political impartiality.

The generals previously dismissed nominations put forward by protesters for Sudan’s two top judicial posts.

“Judicial and legal reforms should be a top priority during the transitional period,” said Ahmed Rabie, a leader of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association.

"However, we have seen inaction on the part of the Sovereign Council to appoint a new head of the judiciary and a new general prosecutor.

The group has led protests since Mr Al Bashir was still in power.

The Sovereign Council, comprised of five military members and six civilians, is expected to rule the country along with a Cabinet and a legislative body for more than three years.

Last week, prime minister Abdalla Hamdok, a long-serving economist, announced the make-up of his Cabinet after several weeks of deliberations.

The announcement of transitional state institutions came after pressure from the US amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite a civil war.

“The Sudanese revolution does not only aim at changing a president or bringing in new ministers, but it aims at restructuring the Sudanese state,” Mr Rabie said.

“Hence, it is illogical to have officials belonging to the ancient regime on top of the state’s civil and judicial apparatuses.”

The judiciary chief and public prosecutor were appointed by the military council, which took over the helm after removing Mr Al Bashir in April.

Under the terms of the power-sharing deal, the military council was dissolved and replaced with the Sovereign Council.

"This rally is an important step towards the restructuring of the judicial system so that we can embark on a period of transitional justice," said Rasha Awad, editor of the online Sudanese newspaper Altaghyeer.

The power-sharing agreement capped several months of negotiations and tension between the generals and the protest movement.

In early June, talks were suspended after a military clampdown on the protesters’ main sit-in in the capital left more than 100 dead.

The attack had remained a thorny issue even after both parties resumed talks.

In Thursday’s rallies, protesters waved Sudanese flags and raised banners reading: “The appointment of new judiciary chief and public prosecutor is a revolutionary demand.”