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Sudan’s First Female Chief Justice Wins Wide Acceptance


In this picture from video, Sudanese women rally on the streets of the capital, in Khartoum, Sudan, Sept. 12, 2019.
Sudan’s First Female Chief Justice Wins Wide Acceptance
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Sudanese citizens have largely welcomed the first female chief justice of the country’s highest court.

Nemat Abdallah’s appointment is historic not only for Sudan but for all of Africa. She is only the fifth female justice named in Africa.

Wafa Adam works for the non-governmental organization Siha. The group advocates for women’s rights in Sudan. Adam said she is happy that a woman now holds a top position in the country.

She told VOA, “I am very excited about that and she is going to support the women and she is going to advocate for women and laws. We expect her to support the women movements and the women.”

Sudan is one of three majority Muslim countries that has not approved the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, Adam said. She expects Abdallah to approve that treaty and to work to change local Sudanese laws that oppress women.

Adam said, “Public order law, family law and criminal law and many laws that are not supporting women’s rights, we request her to advocate for reforming those laws.”

Israa Dawood is a young Sudanese woman. She took part in the protests that led to the ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir. She said Abdallah's appointment is historic.

Dawood told VOA, “Abdallah has played a significant role during the revolution and everybody has pushed for her appointment.”

Haj Hamad teaches political science at the University of Khartoum. He said Abdallah’s appointment as chief justice proves that most Sudanese trust women’s leadership skills.

Hamad said that female professionals and leaders occupying influential positions in Sudan “is a major breakthrough from earlier policies of a different regime in the country.”

Abdallah was first nominated as chief justice soon after military leaders and the opposition signed a power-sharing agreement in late August. But Sudan's new executive body instead named a man to the position. Public protests led the council to cancel its decision and appoint Abdallah as chief justice on October 10.

Hamad said Abdallah will likely face many difficulties during Sudan’s three-year transitional government. But he added that Abdallah will likely stand firm to defend the country’s constitutional declaration and all of its laws.

Based on the constitutional document signed on August 17, 2019, the chief justice names the judiciary council. The chief justice also heads the judiciary and serves as president of the nation's Supreme Court.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Carol Van Dam reported this story for VOA News. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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