An Evangelical church leader in Khartoum, Sudan, was arrested and charged with impersonating others, based on claims from a committee mistakenly granted authority over the church.
Rafat Obid, who is a leader of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SPEC) in Khartoum and leads the church’s council, was arrested, charged under Article 113 of the Criminal Act, and released on bail on 28 June. The accusation was that he had been falsely representing himself as the leader of the church.
The allegation was made by members of a committee that had been accidentally authorised to act on behalf of the church by the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments (MGRE) under former president Omar al Bashir.
In 2017, Mr Obid was acquitted by the Omdurman Criminal Court of the same charge filed by the same complainant.
The situation has continued to escalate, because despite the political changes and an improved relationship with the MGRE, the government department has not officially recognised the committee led by Mr Obid as the legitimate body to administer on behalf of the church. This has left Mr Obid and SPEC open to malicious prosecution by the illegitimate committee.
Campaigners have been calling on the transitional government of Sudan to review the processes of the MGRE, which had accidentally authorised the illegal committee many years ago.
Back in 2015, the Khartoum Administrative Court ruled that the MGRE had made an error in authorising the illegally constituted committee, and should have authorised the committee led by Mr Obid to administrate on behalf of the church instead.
But this 2015 ruling has yet to be actioned, despite the change in government. In 2020, the Ministry dissolved all the committees appointed during the previous regime – but these committees have continued to operate.
As a result, the MGRE’s practice of authorising committees to administrate on behalf of religious organisations is still continuing, and past mistakes have not been rectified.