Monday, April 05, 2010

Developments in the Sudan Elections

On April 1, our friends in the Save Darfur Coalition posted a message that read, in part:

Late last night, the largest opposition party in Sudan (the southern based Sudanese People's Liberation Movement) announced it was withdrawing its candidate for president of Sudan from the national elections scheduled for April 11-13. The leaders of SPLM did so reportedly because they were convinced that elections were too flawed to move forward and they did not want to legitimize a process that led to the re-election of President Omar-al Bashir, the architect of the Darfur genocide.

This morning, the remaining major opposition parties (with one exception) followed suit and withdrew their candidates from the presidential ballot. Save Darfur has long said that we do not believe free and fair elections are possible in Sudan given the oppressive political environment that has preceded them. And in the last two days, the decisions by the major opposition parties to withdraw underscore that fact.
LuiNotes is not an official blog of the Diocese of Missouri, nor has the Diocese of Missouri taken any position on these sudden developments. The blog-owners simply want our friends to be aware of these developments.

For more information, read the BBC’s coverage. They offered this headline on Friday, April 2: “US envoy to Sudan Scott Gration is holding a second day of crisis talks after a boycott threatens Sudan's first multi-party national poll in 24 years.”

The story reads:

Most major parties have withdrawn from the presidential elections and some groups have also pulled out of the parliamentary and municipal polls.

Several key parties in the north are also now considering a total boycott.

President Omar al-Bashir, wanted for alleged war crimes in Darfur, now faces only one major presidential challenger.

Veteran Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi has confirmed that candidates from his Popular Congress Party would contest all the polls.

But the BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum says if the other parties go for a total boycott, the credibility of the elections would be damaged almost beyond repair.

'On fire'

The southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) - which serves in a coalition at national level with President Bashir - first announced it was boycotting the presidential election over fraud and security fears on Wednesday.

Other parties in the north followed suit, saying they believed the electoral process had been rigged in favour of Mr Bashir's National Congress Party.

They said the registration process had been flawed and their access to state media and rights to hold rallies restricted.

Then on Thursday evening a loose alliance of parties opposed to President Bashir announced their total withdrawal.

Spokesman Farouk Abu Issa said to go ahead with presidential, parliamentary and municipal vote would risk putting the country "on fire".

"So we ask[ed] for a postponement until we can get a conducive atmosphere for a fair election. The government said no and Bashir said no," he said.

Mr Gration is now trying to convince one of the main northern opposition politicians, former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, his Umma party should contest at least some of the polls for parliament and regional governors' posts.

The party is currently debating whether to opt for a full boycott - if it does, all of the major opposition parties with the exception of Mr Turabi's are likely to follow suit.

Our reporter says it is believed Mr Mahdi will not return to the presidential race, but could let his party members contest the other elections.

Mr Gration said earlier that if the main opposition withdrew from the legislative elections it was not clear whether they would still be held.

Threat over referendum

SPLM presidential candidate Yassir Arman announced on Wednesday that he was pulling out of the election.

He also cited a lack of preparedness for the election in the Darfur region, where a rebellion has been taking place since 2003.

"The people of Darfur in the internally displaced people's camps asked the SPLM not to be involved in the election," he said.

The SPLM is still planning, however, to contest the parliamentary and municipal elections elsewhere in Sudan on the same day as the presidential poll.

President Bashir has threatened to cancel a promised referendum on independence for the south if the SPLM boycotts the poll.

However the SPLM and Western countries have said that the referendum and the election are separate issues, which should not be linked.

The SPLM joined the unity government in 2005 as part of a peace deal ending a two-decade civil war.

Some 1.5 million people died in the conflict between the mainly Muslim North and the South, where most people are Christian or follow traditional beliefs.

1 comment:

Lisa Fox said...

One of our readers alerts me to this story in the Wall Street Journal. The bulk of the story is available only to WSJ subscribers.