A milestone for Sudan’s budding democracy as country appoints first female chief justice

Sudan has for the first time in its history appointed a female chief justice.

According to the BBC, the Sovereign Council, made up of civilians and military officials confirmed the appointment of Supreme Court judge Neemat Abdullah to the position of Chief Justice.

Although only two of the 11-member Sovereign Council in charge of Sudan are women, this latest appointment is seen as a significant step towards addressing gender inequality.

Activists have been pushing for more female appointments, especially as so many women played a key role in the protests that led to the downfall of former President Omar al-Bashir.

Who is Neemat Abudallah?

Image result for photos of Neemat Abdullah

Neemat Abdullah Mohamed Khair  is a Sudanese judge of the Sudanese Supreme Court who became Chief Justice of Sudan (head of the Sudanese judiciary) on 10 October 2019. As such, under Article 29.(3) of the August 2019 Draft Constitutional Declaration, she is also the president of the Supreme Court of Sudan and is “responsible for administering the judicial authority before the Supreme Judicial Council.” Khair is the first woman Chief Justice of Sudan.

Khair participated in the 2018–2019 Sudanese protests, including the sit-in in front of the Khartoum army headquarters, which was broken up in the 3 June Khartoum massacre.

Khair became a member of the Sudanese judiciary in the early 1980s. She worked in the Court of Appeal, the Court of First Instance, and became a judge of the Supreme Court. Khair founded the Sudanese Judges Club.

Khair is not affiliated to any political party. According to Sudan Daily, she is “known for her competence, integrity and experience”.

Khair is the first female Chief Justice of Sudan, and one of only a small number of female Chief Justices in Africa (following Kaïta Kayentao Diallo — Mali, 2006; Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh — Sierra Leone, 2008; Mathilda Twomey — Seychelles, 2011; Nthomeng Majara — Lesotho, 2014; Irene Mambilima — Zambia, 2015; Sophia Akuffo — Ghana, 2017; Meaza Ashenafi — Ethiopia, 2018).

On 12 September 2019, prior to Khair’s 10 October confirmation, thousands of protestors in Khartoum and other Sudanese towns called for Abdelgadir Mohamed Ahmed to be appointed as Chief Justice and Mohamed el-Hafiz as Attorney General. The 10 October decree declared Taj el-Hibir as Attorney-General.

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