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Sunday, October 9, 2011

An Initiative on a Charter of Sudanese People’s Rights: Towards A New Dawn

We, the signatories to this initiative, see our country sliding towards a chasm of devastation. We appeal to the political forces—civic or armed—civil society organizations, youth movements and independent democratic figures, to launch, according to the Charter proposed below, a sincere and inclusive dialogue in order to reach a unified and effective formula to bring together  Sudanese agents for change. In this critical moment we hold responsible any political force or leadership which fails to play its role in this process, preferring its partisan or personal interest, or which takes refuge in indifference and petty conflicts.  We hold them responsible, before the Sudanese people, our history and future generations, for the country’s descent into the abyss.
 Charter of Sudanese People’s Rights: Towards A New Dawn   
Our country is rapidly slipping into an abyss, driven by the policies of a regime that find its foundation in oppression, marginalisation, racism, imposition of unilateral cultural and religious identities in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, destruction of state and public institutions through control of the ruling party, corruption, the creation of parasitic businesses and waste of resources
The policies of the regime have decimated the quality and standard of life in the country, humiliating and impoverishing the majority of the population. These policies have resulted in the dismantling of public institutions and the public service, the destruction of education, health and environmental capacities, and the tearing apart of value systems and the social and moral fabric. They have led to the eruption of wars and fuelled the commission of massive human rights atrocities, including genocide against some groups of our population. Furthermore the regime’s polices have left the people of South Sudan with no choice but secession, turned Darfur into one of the worst dilemmas of our contemporary world, re-ignited wars in Abyei, Blue Nile and South Kordofan/ Nuba Mountains where the same methods of blind violence including aerial bombardment of civilians, besieging of displaced populations and preventing access to food and humanitarian assistance have been deployed. These policies are also threatening to trigger the outbreak of conflict in eastern Sudan, far north and in central Sudan. The current regime is pushing the country into further fighting and fragmentation and ultimately into a deep abyss of devastation.
In the face of both the existing and looming threats, our country is in need of maximum commitment and determination from its forces, civic and armed. The highest and noblest characteristics of its leaders must be demonstrated. The will to work together, beyond narrow partisan and personal interests, must become manifest so that we can lift our country from the precipice on which it teeters, and create a new regime that guarantees the rights of Sudanese people to be free from totalitarianism, from repeated atrocities and genocides, and to enjoy democracy, social justice, development, welfare, national integration and peace.

An Interim Period:
The undersigned forces to this Charter agree to strive to change the existing regime through various means, whether civic resistance methods (strikes, demonstrations, uprisings, etc) or armed methods, and to create an alternative regime that meets the following criteria/principles and process elements;

·         A constitutional declaration which dissolves all institutions controlled by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), both legislative and executive, and at both national and state levels. The constitutional declaration will establish a civic, democratic and federal system that is committed to: guarantee of international human rights standards; upholding the rights of the people of the marginalized areas; governance of the country according to democratic principles  in an interim period that comes to an end with the approval of a permanent constitution; the conduct of a fair and professional census, and the organisation of fair and free elections based on proportional representation at all levels.
·         The major forces agree on the representation of genuine civil society, youth groups, new movements, professional independent democrats, and other political forces in a unified structure of the Sudanese agents for change. All these forces together will establish an interim presidential council representative of all regions of the country; a federal council of ministers, a federal parliament and regional parliaments and governments.
·         Forces participating in these interim strictures/institutions are represented according to their qualitative and quantitative weight and without allowing one force to dominate. But in marginalized regions where certain forces have qualitative weight and must be reflected in these interim institutions, in order to realize stability, the fair representation of all the various groups of population will also be taken into consideration.
·         The major forces agree on the representation of women, genuine civil society, youth movements and independent democrats within the interim institutions at both federal and state levels.
·         A Committee of the Wise, constituted of independent democratic personalities who are known for their integrity and probity, and representing all regions of the country, is established. This Committee of the Wise is mandated with settling disputes through reconciliation and the creation of consensus. If consensus is impossible the Committee takes decisions by majority vote which are binding on all.
·         Military coups and the taking of power by force are criminalised. The use of violence to resolve disputes and the carrying of arms outside the new regular military forces is prohibited.
The Interim Institutions are obliged to achieve the following:
-          To eradicate the impacts of wars and totalitarianism in all fields including social, cultural, intellectual, moral and media.
-          To guarantee human rights according to international norms and standards. All laws and provisions that restrict these fundamental freedoms are to be canceled.
-          To establish a genuine federal system that includes rebuilding of the federal power structure to ensure representation of different regions of the country guaranteeing a broad and real federalism that ensures the rights of the people of marginalized regions through equitable distribution of resources and access to development and services, and through the protection of the rights of the people of these regions to express their culture and languages.
-          To rebuild the state apparatus through the appointment of persons of professional and national caliber in the public service and regular military forces. Further, to integrate armed forces of the resistance movements in the newly established regular military forces. The rebuilding process should include review of all appointments that took place on a political basis and the reinstatement of those forcibly dismissed. The national character and neutrality of civil service and regular military forces, the independence of judiciary, the neutrality of law enforcement agencies, the independence of universities and the central bank will be guaranteed.
-          To dissolve all militias and to collect their arms.
-          To ensure the return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their original lands, fair compensation, and the provision of decent means of livelihood.
-          To bring the perpetrators of major human rights crimes to justice, including through cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC), and to financially and morally compensate the victims of these atrocities, in addition to establishment of transitional justice mechanisms.
-          To implement a radical economic reform that puts an end to corruption and the wasting of public resources in political and security expenditure. This radical reform includes formulation of economic policies which meet the interests of the majority of the population and the development of the nation’s physical and human resources. Such development is to be sustainable and balanced to meet the interests of all regional and social strata. It will prioritize spending in social sectors such as health, education, clean water, public/popular housing and social welfare, in addition to war-affected areas and support of unemployed youth, particularly graduate students.
-          To dismantle the tools and legacy of the dark and discriminatory systems that have undermined the dignity of women, whether through culture, laws or institutions, including in particular the Public Order regime, and to ensure women’s equality with men in human dignity and in rights, and to empower women politically and economically in law and practice.
-          To rebuild the education, media and culture sectors on the basis of equality and human dignity, including culture of democracy, peace, science, development and national integration.
-          To organize a series of conferences which bring together political forces, civil society, experts and specialists around themes such as a permanent constitution, federalism, economics, education, health, culture, media and environment, concluding these conferences with sets of recommendations and detailed programs of action for the interim periods.
-          To conduct a fair and professional population census
-          To organize a constitutional conference and to approve a permanent constitution. The undersigned forces to this Charter undertake to ensure a federal, civic and democratic constitution that protects human rights according to international standards and where human rights and rights of the people of marginalized regions are not compromised to majority and/or minority stakeholders.
-          To conduct fair and free elections based on unrestricted proportional representation at all levels.
-          To adopt a foreign policy that is not based on partisan ideology and to reflect the interest of Sudanese people and the framework of international legitimacy.
-          To call for international conference to support Sudan’s achievement of the objectives of the interim period.
-          To establish a brotherly/sisterly relationship with the Republic of South Sudan and to sign a twinning agreement with it.

Commencement of the Initiative: A conference
·         The major forces supporting this Charter, civil and armed, will meet in a small conference to amend and improve this Charter.
·         At this meeting the major forces will agree on representatives from civil society, youth movements, independent democrats and other political forces to participate in a broader conference that will bring together all of the agents for change. This broader conference will approve the final version of the Charter of Rights for the Sudanese People, the structure of the Sudanese agents for change, their plan of work and mechanisms.


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