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Sudan opposition to get say in constitution-official

سودانيزاونلاين.كوم
sudaneseonline.com
4/24/2005 7:49am

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM, April 23 (Reuters) - Sudan's government and former rebels will allow other opposition parties a role in writing a new constitution, but the start of work has been delayed to allow for more talks, the ruling party said on Saturday.


The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed a peace deal in January to end more than two decades of civil war in Sudan's south. Under the deal a new government of national unity will be formed and wealth and power will be shared. The first task is to form a new interim constitution.

The two parties had planned to hold at least a two-thirds majority in the constitutional commission, which is the percentage needed to make any decisions. But the NCP said they had compromised to give other parties a real say.

"It will mean the two (parties) together will be less than two-thirds in the commission," Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, secretary-general of the NCP told Reuters.

The peace deal allows for power sharing in government, giving the NCP 52 percent and the SPLM 28 percent of all posts. Northern opposition parties get 14 percent and non-SPLM southern forces six percent. But a special compromise was being negotiated for the constitution, an important national issue.

Omar said the SPLM and NCP had given up 10 seats between them to have only 38 of the 60 seats in the constitutional commission, a little over 63 percent. It will allow opposition parties some say, if small, in the shaping of the constitution.

The compromise is likely to appease those opposition parties still undecided about joining the constitutional commission after weeks of talks. A joint NCP-SPLM delegation is leaving this evening for Egypt for two days of talks with Sudan's main umbrella opposition group, which is hesitant about joining.

Omar said the work of the commission, due to begin on Saturday, had been delayed until at least Thursday, to allow the Cairo talks to finish and because Sudan had invited several foreign presidents to the commission's first day of work.

"This is an important event in Sudan and we have sent invitations to a number of presidents to attend," he said.

PARTY RESTRUCTURING

Omar said the NCP, which dominates both government and parliament, was restructuring to allow senior government ministers to take party posts.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir would become party president and appoint about three vice presidents, Omar said, adding his position and the secretariat he heads would no longer exist.

"This is a kind of integration between party and government," he said. "The people working the party will be the people working the government," he said.

Party officials from other areas of the country would be also be drawn deeper into the decision-making process, he said, adding that he would like to retire but would stay on if the party asked him to.

The process would most likely be implemented once the new national government of unity is formed.

"We think it will be more appropriate to make it coincide with the change of the national government," Omar said.

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