Bashir says Sudan will adopt Islamic constitution

KHARTOUM  – Sudan will go ahead with plans to adopt an entirely Islamic constitution and strengthen Islamic law, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Wednesday, three months after its former civil war enemy South Sudan became independent.

Juba seceded on 9 July after a referendum agreed under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the South where most follow Christian and traditional beliefs.

Bashir had said in December that Sudan would adopt an Islamic constitution if Juba seceded but many southerners had hoped he would not deliver on this.

His comments will add to uncertainty for more than a million southerners who still live in the north and are now treated legally as foreigners. Khartoum has given them until spring to leave or obtain the legal right to stay, a complicated process.

"Ninety-eight percent of the people are Muslims and the new constitution will reflect this. The official religion will be Islam and Islamic law the main source (of the constitution)," Bashir told students in Khartoum in a speech.

"We call it a Muslim state," said Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes in Darfur.

The 2005 peace deal set up an interim constitution which limited Islamic law to the north and recognized "the cultural and social diversity of the Sudanese people".

Many southerners say they feel no longer welcome in the north since the split. They have lost government jobs and now need work and residency permits to stay in the north.

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