Formation of the National Legislature:
Article 83 of the Constitution stipulates that: National legislature comprises both of the following houses:
- (a) National Assembly.
- (b) Council of States
Pending conduct of elections, the President of the Republic appointed representatives of states in the Council after consultation within the framework of the presidency. Representatives of Southern States were appointed on recommendation of the head of government of Southern Sudan after consultation with relevant institutions of the States.
Article 91(1) of the Interim Constitution stipulates that: the National legislative body with its two houses represents people’s determination. Imperative, thus, that it consolidate national unity, accomplish legislation on national level, monitor the executive and promote decentralized governance.
The Constitution laid down in Article (2) above that the national legislative body discharges its duties in joint meetings chaired by the Speaker National Assembly. The Speaker of the Council of States is deputy. Each of the two houses functions, as specified in the Constitution, in autonomous separate meetings. The Constitution, as well specifies that each of the national legislative body and each of its two independent houses should have its own autonomous regulations.
Functions of the Council
In the field of abiding by principles in the course of implementation: Article (22) of Constitution lays down that principles envisaged in Constitution are principal for governance. The state is obliged to follow and adhere to it when formulating policies and laws.
Article 4(a) of the Constitution stipulates, “The unity of the Sudan is based on the free will of its people, rule of law, democratic and decentralized governance, accountability, equity, respect and equality”. We find, as well, that Article 25(c) of the Constitution involves the same principles from “Realization of good governance through democracy, transparency, accountability and rule of law on all levels of governance, so as to re-enforce permanent peace”. Comprehensive Peace Agreement relies on this principle in that no-enforcement of permanent peace accrues via successful implementation of comprehensive peace agreement and taking care of aforesaid principles. This ultimately leads to model governance in the Sudan and makes unity attractive with the security, equity during peace period. Thus a good harvest is reaped which should be the objective of all.
There then comes the role of the Council in looking after and contributing in the implementation of these principles. This is when delegating and distributing powers between all levels of governance assuring that this is democratically done by allowing a chance for wide participation that helps in decision making. This is feasible through the composition of the Council in that it represents all states of the Sudan. It is also feasible through transparency and accountability by legislative monitoring represented in the statements of national ministers, requests for information, questions and urgent subjects and other parliamentary ways and means. If adopted properly, the Council, certainly, would have contributed in achieving values and clarity and cleanness in public life and better still rule of law thereby limiting and eliminating corruption and preventing misuse of power and at the same time manifesting in other good values.
In the Field of Decentralized Governance:
The Constitution assigned the Council of States an original task viz. taking the lead in the field of national legislation on the system of decentralized governance and other major issues of interest and significance to the states. This is with the object of attaining development and rendering public services with equality and equity, thereby enhancing decentralization of power and decision making.
Better still, the Constitution awarded the Council the right of amending draft laws that affect adversely the interest of states and which are passed to it by joint standing committee of both houses in accordance with Article 912\((5)(b) of the Constitution. It is to be presented directly to the President of the Republic without referring it back to the National Assembly. The procedure confirms the fact that the Council of States, alone, possesses the original task of legislation on decentralized governance system.
The Council is empowered also to issue resolutions and directives on the system of decentralized governance to guide all levels of government in conformity with Articles 25, 25, 26 of the Constitution.
With reference to Articles 25, 26 of the Constitution concerning decentralized governance, we find that it points out principles to be followed as per Constitution when delegating powers and distributing them between different levels – also principles to be followed when exercising the system of decentralized governance are original principles with regard to effective and fair rule.
In The Field of Development and Public Services:
The Constitution laid down that services are rendered through states governance which exercise power on the level of the states throughout the Sudan. General services are rendered through the level nearest to the citizens.
Because development and services do not materialize except by money, the Constitution laid down guide-line principles for fair division of wealth on the basis of:-
a. Sharing of resources and wealth on fair basis.
b. Enabling all levels of governance to carry out constitutional and legal duties.
c. Fair sharing of financial resources between other states of the Sudan.
d. Sharing of wealth and public resources on the understanding that all regions of the Sudan are entitled to development.
e. Abiding strictly by delegation of powers and decentralized decision making with regard to development and public services and all other affairs of governance in so far as fair distribution of wealth and resources are concerned.
We find that the Council will contribute in looking after these principles by strictly adopting it when formulating policies regarding development and rendering of services so as to ascertain fairness all over the Sudan. This is by presenting recommendations and propositions in this respect when participating in the deliberation of the address of the President of the Republic before the national legislative body and by monitoring development through monitoring National Fund for the construction and Development and through reports submitted by the fund which the Council considers and issues whatever reports the Council thinks appropriate. Furthermore, the Council contributes through participation in the study of draft law allocating resources and revenues presented to the national legislative body at the beginning of each financial year for approval by the legislative body comprising both houses. Likewise, the Council functions in this sphere by the tours and travel of the committees to the states and consequent reports leading to resolutions and directives that guide the state in the formulation of general policies and national legislation in different spheres and particularly with regard to development and general services.
In the Field of Ratification of Petroleum Contracts :
The Sudan is now deeply involved in the field of petroleum exploration and production. The Constitution referred to the ideal ways and means as to how to manage and develop petroleum sector. The most important of that is sustainable utilization of petroleum in so far as compatible with national interest, public interest, the interest of affected states, and the interest of local population in the regions concerned and national policies for environment.
commission for petroleum There is a provision in the Constitution stating that a national commission is to be set up and its composition specified and functions. The Council of States is assigned the duty of considering objectives, if any, to its resolutions regarding ratification of contracts and discovery and production of petroleum. In the case of any objection on the part of the representatives of states producing petroleum or where discovered, the matter is referred to the Council of States for arbitration and resolution that preserve and safeguard the right of petroleum producing states.
In case of National Legislature Based on Religion or Norms:
In the case of national legislature based on religion or norms already existing or forthcoming, as is the case in Southern Sudan, and in case the majority of population in the state do not embrace that religion or norm, the Constitution laid down that the states in this case may enact a legislation of their own or else pass the legislature to the Council of States for approval by a majority of two-thirds of representatives or else start a process of enacting a national legislature befitting the state.
:In the Sphere of Other Constitutional Functions
The council is competent in approval of constitutional court judges appointments and their deposition , with the majority of the two thirds of all representatives.
In the field of contacts with state legislative assemblies and states:
This takes effect through representation of states representatives by reflecting worries and difficulties of the states in the Council and voicing grievances in decision making center and through performance of their duties in the Council by paying attention to the interest of the states when formulating policy and planning in all spheres, also through participation in conflict resolution, resettlement, rehabilitation and tackling the question of displacement in such a way as to realize co-existence and comprehensive peaceful co-existence.
In the field of foreign contacts with parliamentary unions and similar institutions:
Regulations stipulate that the Council maintains relations with countries that adopt the system of two houses so as to benefit from these relations in all spheres. The Council, as well, has the right of representation viz. national legislative body in various parliamentary unions as representatives of Council of States in foreign participation.
In the Field of Principles Relating to Human Rights:
The Council is interested in preserving human rights in conformity with the charter of rights and freedoms embodied in the Constitution particularly with regard to fairness in achieving development and rendering services and other rights e.g. re-settlement, rehabilitation and tackling questions of displacement and to safeguard basic freedoms based on recognition of diversity, respect of religious heritage on any other creed or norm or values relating thereto.
It is to be noted that the Constitution is particular about laying down guidelines of principles in all spheres and fields of public life. The state is committed to follow when enacting legislations and formulating policies. All levels of governance are obliged to adhere to and respect these guidelines when exercising power. Because the system of governance is based on decentralization and devolution of powers and on decentralized decision making, we find that the Constitution allocated an important chapter for decentralized governance wherein it pointed out basic principles for delegation of powers and distribution thereof between all levels of governments. It, as well, pointed out the links between all levels of governance and demanded respect and safeguard thereof
We find that the highest and best principles the Constitution embodied are those that lead to fair distribution of wealth. It stipulated that it should be divided proportionately so as to enable all parts to fulfill constitutional and legal duties. The objective is to dignify citizens and raise their standard of living without discrimination. Distribution of wealth should be on the bases that each part of the Sudan has a right to develop and enjoy essential services.
The principle of sharing wealth culminated in an important matter viz. delegation of power and decentralization of decision making and general conduct of public affairs. Development of sustainable infrastructure, and ability to answer the needs of the people should all be in a framework liable to accountability and transparency. As such, the Constitution compelled the state to adopt the best exercise so far known in managing sustainable natural resources and monitoring thereof.
With these clear constitutional texts and high values, the Constitution has, as such, covered and recognized all rights and particularly the right of Sudanese citizens in dignity and justice. These rights are accorded as per these important principles which the constitution empowered the Council of States to implement and take care of particularly when formulating policies relating to centralized governance – also when exercising monitoring power through ways and means specified by the Constitution and the regulations. It goes without saying that it is a big task. If the Council could perform, it will thus have awarded the states their right in resources and wealth sharing and consequently achieve development and public service and wipe out discrepancies between the center and the states. Grievances and the sense of marginalization will vanish. Not only that but wars and conflicts will, in consequence, disappear.
1. Comprehensive Peace Agreement 2005.
2. Sudan Interim Constitution 2005.
3. Council of States Conduct of Business Regulations 2005.