KHARTOUM - Sudan’s transitional government has overturned a moral policing law that criminalized certain clothing for women and drinking alcohol.
It also has dissolved the country’s former ruling party, carrying out two key demands of Sudan’s pro-democracy protesters.
Sudan’s Justice Minister Nassraddeen Abdulbari says the votes Friday to abolish the Public Order Act and disband the National Congress Party are a “big achievement’’ for Sudan’s revolution.
Abdulbari says many Sudanese families have been subjected to beatings, harassment, and even imprisonment under the Public Order Act.
“It abolishes the Public Order Act, which we are all aware has oppressed many families in Sudan, and especially the vulnerable groups. Some of them have experiences that are horrible to hear during the implementation period,” Abdulbari told VOA South Sudan in Focus.
Eleven members of Sudan's new executive body, known as the Sovereign Council, and 23 members of the cabinet voted to suspend the National Congress Party and to freeze all of their assets.
“This law is meant to fragment the National Congress Party specifically, which will allow the government to confiscate and apprehend all financial assets and property which have been owned by the party, and divert them to the account of the Ministry of Finance,” Abulbari told VOA.
Rights groups said the Public Order Act targeted women and is an outdated law left over from the 30-year rule of ousted president Omar al-Bashir.
Khartoum resident Mashaeir Ramadan said the action proves the transitional government is serious about carrying out reforms.
“I regard this move as the first positive step toward building a civilian government in Sudan. This will reform a lot in our society to provide the basic human rights and lift oppression from citizens. This is a good step but we are still waiting for more so that we feel that our revolution has won,” Ramadan told South Sudan in Focus.
Rights activist and Khartoum resident Amira Osman Hamid said while overturning the act is a good thing, other provisions in Sudan’s criminal code that still allow authorities to oppress women should also be abolished.
“For me, I don’t think this law has been abolished because articles from 152–155 of the Sudan’s criminal act still exist and they could be using them to oppress and violate human rights. So I don’t think anything has been changed,” Hamid told South Sudan in Focus.
Article 24.3 of the constitution states that “Until the Legislative Council is formed, the Council’s powers are invested in the members of the Sovereignty Council and the Cabinet, who exercise them in a joint meeting, and take decisions by consensus or by a two-thirds majority of members.”
The Friday meeting was the first joint gathering of both councils to make decisions about the country’s laws since the formation of the Sovereign Council more than three months ago.