Sudan's Ruling Council Removes First Female Chief Justice, Accepts Attorney General's Resignation

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Khartoum — Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council removed Chief Justice Neimat Abdallah Mohamed Khair from the bench and accepted the resignation of Attorney General Taj Al Sir Al Hibir late on Monday, without offering an explanation for either decision.

The moves come days after Sudanese soldiers shot and killed two protesters in Khartoum.

Mohammed Al Fekki Suleiman, spokesperson of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, made the announcement during a press briefing shortly after the regular meeting of the council in Khartoum on Monday night.

Suleiman said the chief justice's position will remain vacant until the council appoints a replacement in accordance with the constitution.

"The council shall approve the appointment of the chief justice, the Supreme Court judges, and the president and members of the Constitutional Court after their nomination by the High Judicial Council. Until the high judicial council is formed, the Sovereign Council shall appoint the chief justice. The same thing applies to the attorney general," he said.

Judge Khair was appointed Sudan's first female chief justice in October 2019, six months after the Sudanese military removed Omar al-Bashir from power in response to months of mass pro-democracy demonstrations.

Judge Khair was not immediately available for comment.

Suleiman also said the Sovereign Council had accepted the resignation of Attorney General Al Hibir, noting Al Hibir indicated his desire to step down on at least three occasions.

Al Hibir tells VOA's South Sudan In Focus he resigned because he had not been given enough political space to work independently.

More than 20 qualified public prosecutors were relieved from their posts earlier this month by a government committee tasked with removing elements of Bashir's administration and recovering stolen funds, according to Al Hibir.

That was a case of government agencies overstepping their boundaries, he told South Sudan in Focus.

"It is a matter of independence of the attorney general's office in terms of [interference] other unauthorized institutions and government agencies to terminate the tenure of office of prosecutors and chief prosecutors, [which] I think is not fair because it is a violation of a law that applies to these institutions," he said.

"If you cannot do justice for your own people, then you will not be able to do justice for the others. And even if [my resignation] was not accepted, I would have stayed at home," he added.

Mohammed Ali Fazari, editor in chief of the online English newspaper Khartoum Today, said he is not surprised to see Khair and Al Hibir forced out of their posts.

Many families who lost relatives during the military's crackdown on the Sudanese revolution two years ago believe both top officials failed to carry out justice for their loved ones, Fazari said.

"Justice is one of the three pillars of the slogan of the Sudanese revolution; [it] has stumbled and faced a number of challenges due to the delay of main cases. There are so many criminal suspects still at large," Fazri told South Sudan in Focus.

Military commanders recently turned over the names of soldiers suspected of being involved in killing two protesters in Khartoum last week, who were marking the two-year anniversary of the Sudanese revolution.

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