Sudan: Journalists, Lawyers Demand Removal of Corrupt Trade Union Leaders

Khartoum — The decision of the General Registrar of Labour Organisations this weekend to dissolve trade unions established by the ousted regime of President Omar Al Bashir and to hold new union elections within three months, met with resistance from journalists and lawyers.

The Committee for the Restoration of the Journalists Union said in a statement on Monday that the decision conflicts with the Constitutional Document (aka Constitutional Declaration) which stipulates the work of Sudan's transitional government for the coming three years. The journalists point to the provision in the agreement, signed by the junta and the opposition in Khartoum on August 17, that bans "all forms of empowerment by the former regime, economically, politically and security-wise".

The Darfur Bar Association also reacted on Monday to "the decision of the Registrar General of Labour Organisations no. 2019/20". It warned for prolonging the legitimacy and recognition of the executive committees established by the former regime "by turning them into preparatory committees that supervise the preparation of elections in the coming three months".

The lawyers called on the Minister of Justice to take the necessary measures to dissolve the unions' executive committees, and to develop a new Trade Unions Law to ensure the establishment of genuinely independent trade unions and syndicates.

'Counter-revolution'

According to the Sudanese Journalists Network, the decision of the Registrar "does not reflect the goals of the revolution, but rather to a counter-revolution seeking to restore government control of the trade unions".

The network pointed out in its statement on Monday that "the leniency to elements of the deposed regime and the slowness in dealing with financial and administrative corruption have tempted affiliates of the former regime to manipulate the demands of the people.

"We reject this flawed decision in form and content. It has to be dealt with vigorously," the journalists stated. "We as well refuse to hold any elections in accordance with the defective 2004 Professional Associations Act that includes many legal loopholes designed to enable affiliates of the Al Bashir regime to control the trade unions."

Fearing the power of the trade unions and professional syndicates that spearheaded the popular uprisings of 1964 and 1985, Al Bashir dissolved the original Sudanese Workers' Trade Union Federation (SWTUF) and all other trade unions after he came to power in a coup d'état on June 30, 1989.

In 1992, a re-organised and government-sponsored SWTUF was established. It remained the sole trade union federation in the country to date.

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