Sudan reinstates Neemat Abdullah 1st woman Chief Justice in Africa after protest
London, Oct. 11, 2019 (AltAfrica)-Sudan’s ruling council has reinstated the country’s first woman chief justice after weeks of pressure from pro-democracy activists demanding the original officeholders be sacked for alleged ties to former longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir.
The appointment of Neemat Abdullah as chief justice of the country’s judiciary, a first in Sudan and the entire Arab world is seen as another step forward for female representation in the new transitional government.
The announcements were made by Mohamed al-Fakki Soliman, spokesman for Sudan’s joint civilian-military Sovereign Council, which is ruling the country in transition.
“This way, the council would have turned a page that the Sudanese street had been preoccupied with for a long period of time,” Soliman told reporters following a Sovereign Council meeting
Many in Sudan see the appointment as a major step forward for Sudanese women.
“It definitely makes me happy as a woman and as a feminist to see a woman holding a top judicial post,” said Amal al-Zein, a leader of the Communist Party that was part of the ant-government movement. “But this should not be at the expense of the demands of Sudan’s revolution.”
Researcher and politican Nahid Jabrallah, the founder of the Sima center for children, said the appointment of Judge Neemat Abdullah was a victory for Sudanese women and very symbolic of Sudanese women’s participation in the 30-year fight [against Bashir]. It also shows a commitment to women and women’s issues.
Neemat was initially appointed chief justice soon after military leaders and the opposition signed a power-sharing agreement in August. She was quickly replaced, only to be re-appointed after huge street protests.
The demonstrators demanded an unbiased judiciary, which they think Abdullah can provide based on her background.
She has been a judge in the High Court for years, and has never been a part of a political party, unlike most judges at her level, the majority of whom were loyalists to ousted president Omar al-Bashir.
At the recent U.N. General Assembly, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Amok praised women’s role in the protests that toppled Bashir and ensured there would be civilian representation in the transitional government.
Four women have been appointed to cabinet positions in the new government, including the country’s first female minister of foreign affairs, Asma Mohamed Abdalla.
Former president Bashir is now on trial for money corruption charges, but many Sudanese believe there will be no real punishment for him or his allies unless Sudan’s judiciary is completely restructured