Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir told a conference in Khartoum on Saturday that the new constitution of the country would be 100 percent Islamic.
The move follows last year's succession of the mainly Christian south. President al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity, clearly sees the recent rise of Islamist parties in neighbouring countries as a political opportunity. He told the conference that Sudan's new, post-succession constitution would help transform the region. Reuters reported he told the conference:
We want to present a constitution that serves as a template to those around us. And our template is clear, a 100 percent Islamic constitution, without communism or secularism or Western (influences).
Ironically, al-Bashir, in a comment that was doubtless intended to reassure non-Muslims, stated:
And we tell non-Muslims, nothing will preserve your rights except for Islamic sharia because it is just.
However, al-Bashir has yet to provide a date for the implementation of the new constitution. Nevertheless, there are already signs of a more rigorous implementation of Sharia, with floggings a common punishment. Such practices are generally only commented on by the West in rare, high profile cases, such as the case of the YouTube video of a public flogging, which was widely reported.
Whilst it is not clear when al-Bashir will introduce a new, Islamic constitution, it is clear that time is not on his side. The implementation of an Islamic constitution would enable al-Bashir to more effectively silence critics at home and to make powerful allies aboard. However, the new International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has made it plain that she intends to proceed with his prosecution. She told Al Jazeera:
...it is up to the states parties to ensure that Omar al-Bashir is arrested and brought to the court. I think his destiny is with the ICC.