Sudan plans to move forward with an all-Islamic constitution and a legal system governed by Shariah law, the country's president said Wednesday.
The announcement comes three months after neighboring South Sudan, largely Christian, declared its independence and split off from the predominantly Muslim north. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir had said in December that his country would adopt an Islamic constitution if the south made such a move, Reuters reported, though many hoped he would not go through with it.
“Ninety eight percent of the people are Muslims and the new constitution will reflect this. The official religion will be Islam and Islamic law the main source [of the constitution],” Bashir said in a speech to students in Khartoum. “We call it a Muslim state.”
A 2005 peace deal between the warring sides limited Islamic law to the north and recognized “the cultural and social diversity of the Sudanese people,” according to Reuters. Bashir's comments will lead to further uncertainty for the one million southerners who still live in the north and are legally considered foreigners. They have been given until the spring to either leave or apply to legally stay in the country.
According to RFI, Reverend Ramadan Chan Liol, general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches, said Sudan must recognise religious diversity and should explicitly protect the non-Muslim minority in the north. He added he was surprised to hear Bashir's claim that 98 percent of the northern population is Muslim because the Sudanese census does not ask citizens to state their religion.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for charges of war crimes in Darfur.