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( – Sudanese lawmakers are debating a proposed constitution that is a significant step away from Islamic rule in a country emerging from war between the mainly Muslim north and the non-Muslim south. The proposed constitution says Islamic law will not be applied in the mainly Christian and animist south and removes a requirement that the president be a Muslim. ” Sudan is an all-embracing homeland where religions and cultures are sources of strength, harmony and inspiration,” the draft declares. Debate is expected to take a week. A vote is expected shortly before a government of national unity takes office on 9 July, with Omar al-Bashir continuing as president and Ali Osman Mohammed Taha – the lead negotiator in peace talks with the southern rebels – and former rebel John Garang as vice-presidents. Lawmakers are expected to unanimously adopt the constitution, as they did with the peace deal struck in January that ended a two-decade war between government troops and Garang’s forces…

The draft constitution said Islamic law would be the source of legislation applied in the northern states, while in the south local customs and traditions and respect for the country’s diversity would inform laws. The president is no longer has to be a Muslim, but must be Sudanese, at least 40 years old, literate and free of a criminal record. It is the first Sudanese charter to lay out freedoms of religion and expression as human rights. In another first, women as well as men would be able to pass on Sudanese nationality to their children. …[Go To Full Story]