Voice of the unheard & home to the homeless
Front Page  
 Latest News
 Articles and Analysies
 Press Releases
 Photo Gallery
 About Sudan
  Sudanese Music
  Sudanese Links
  Discussion Board
  2006 News Archives
  2006 Articles Archives
  2006 Press R.Archives
  2005 News Archives
  2005 Articles Archives
  2005 Press R.Archives
  PC&Internet Forum
  Poll System
  Tell A Friend
  Upload Your Picture
  Contact Us


Latest News Last Updated: Apr 3, 2010 - 7:31:03 AM

Boycott threat roils key Sudan elections

Email this article
 Printer friendly page
Boycott threat roils key Sudan elections

KHARTOUM, Sudan Sudan's first multiparty elections in decades have been thrown into disarray by allegations of government violations and opposition threats of a boycott. The disputes wreck hopes of transforming a conflict-plagued nation and could instead end up fueling violence in Darfur and the south.

The election, set to begin April 11, had been billed as a chance to bring democracy to Sudan and start to heal a history of turmoil: 50 years of civil war between north and south that killed 2 million people, repeated military coups, and years of violence in the western Darfur region that the U.S. called the 21st century's first genocide and that brought international war crimes charges against the president, Omar al-Bashir.

The United States and other nations have invested heavily in the elections, which are required under a 2005 peace deal between north and south mediated by Washington.

But experts say the elections are likely to be deeply flawed and won't resolve the deep mistrust between the multiple sides leaving the divisions that could once again re-ignite into violence.

"I think it is a hugely lost opportunity for Sudan," said John Norris, executive director of the Washington-based advocacy group Enough project, which focuses on Darfur and Sudan.

The 2005 peace agreement that ended civil war "was built around transformation and democratic reform, and those key elements ... have largely been ignored," he said.

Many in the south are already looking forward to a more crucial vote next year: a referendum on independence for their oil-rich region. But many fear the north will do anything to prevent the referendum from being held, which could bring the two sides again to the brink of war.

The mainly Christian and animist south fought for decades against rule by the mainly Muslim north. The separate conflict in the western region of Darfur erupted in 2003, when ethnic African tribes rose up complaining of discrimination by the Arab-led government in Khartoum.

The theory behind this month's local, parliamentary and presidential elections has been that they would loosen al-Bashir's autocratic control and decentralize power to address the factors that fueled conflicts in Africa's largest nation ahead of the crucial referendum.

But in the lead-up to the vote, there's been little sign of that happening. Arrangements for the referendum and crucial demarcation of the north-south border around oil-rich areas are still not in place, angering southerners.

Darfur remains under a state of emergency, many of its refugee community disenfranchised or intimidated by the state presence, while violence continues, bringing the legitimacy of any voting there into question. Opposition groups said U.S. envoy Scott Gration suggested partial elections in Darfur as a way to answer their complaints.

And in general, opposition parties accuse al-Bashir's government of seeking to keep its monopoly on power despite the vote.

Candidates, backed by reports from international observers and rights groups, complain al-Bashir's party has used state resources for campaigning, arrested and intimidated activists, denied them free access to the media, and co-opted the independent National Election Commission.

The Umma Party and other major opposition groups threatened to boycott the vote, saying they won't participate in "incomplete" elections that would "falsify the people's will," and have demanded a delay to address the problems.

Two of 11 opposition presidential candidates including the sole southern candidate Yasser Arman already have withdrawn from the race while others said they were considering following suit.

On Saturday, Gration met with the election commission and said delaying the vote is off the table despite the pressure.

He said what he heard from the commission gave him "confidence that the election will start on time and that they will be as free and that they well be as fair as possible."

Al-Bashir, on a campaign rally last week, sent a clear message to the southerners. He warned that the southern referendum is in jeopardy if the opposition, backed by the south, continue to call for election delay.

Arman's withdrawal may have been in response to that threat, to give up the race in order to improve chances for the referendum taking place.

Southern Sudan's President Silva Kiir, who is also head of the southern party, was quoted on a pro-government news Web site as saying his party pulled out its candidate in favor of al-Bashir's party "to protect peace."

"I think it was a very careful strategic hedge," Norris said. "I think they did what everyone else did, in terms of deciding that this was just a box-checking exercise that wouldn't fundamentally change the power relationships in Sudan."

Al-Bashir's party ridiculed the opposition's boycott threats as a desperate move from aging parties and "agents" of the U.S.

"These are outdated parties," said Fathi Sheila, a spokesman for the ruling National Congress Party. "The parties failed to reach an agreement and ... the people don't buy these campaigning tactics."

Al-Bashir is hoping for the vote to give his legitimacy a boost as he holds out against the war crimes indictment against him from the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court over atrocities in Darfur.

Few believe that any of the candidates could unseat al-Bashir given the divisions among the multiple northern-based opposition parties and the ruling party's strong grip on security and intelligence agencies.

But lower-level elections of provincial assemblies and, for the first time, direct election of provincial governors are seen as a breakthrough opportunity to more fairly distribute power and break the patronage system by which the ruling party controlled the provinces and resources.

However, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a recent report that a faulty vote in Darfur would only increase Khartoum's hold there.

"The consequences for Darfur are catastrophic," the report said. "Since the vote will impose illegitimate officials through rigged polls, they will be left with little or no hope or a peaceful change in the status quo, and many can be expected to look to rebel groups to fight and win back their lost rights and lands."

El Deeb reported from Cairo.

© Copyright by SudaneseOnline.com

Please feel free to send us your Articles , Analysies news and press releases to [email protected]

Top of Page

This report does not necessarily reflect the views of Sudanese Online.com

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Latest News
  • Taha Leads Sudan Delegation Participating in France-African Summit
  • Sudan Envoy to UN says movements of the so-called ICC exposed attempts to disturb current historic developments in Sudan
  • Taha to Lead Sudan Delegation for African - French Summit in Nice City
  • President Al-Bashir Receives Message from President Kibaki
  • SPLM Wary of President Bashirs Referendum Pledge
  • Dr. Sabir Al-Hassan Leads Sudan Delegation to ADB Meetings in Cote d'Ivoire
  • Southern Sudan HIV/AIDS infections on the rise
  • Journalists held for boycotting Sudan inauguration
  • Dr. Ismail meets Obasanjo, Discuss Sudanese-Nigerian Relations
  • President of Malawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia expected to arrive in Khartoum Thursday morning
  • Sudan's Bashir Sworn In to Another 5-Year Term
  • President Mohamed Ould Abdel Azizof Mauritania arrives in Khartoum
  • Kenyan Vice President Musyoka Arrives in Khartoum to Take Part in inaguartion of President Al-Bashir
  • Kingsport helps Sudanese town design land use plan
  • Dialogue, co-op vital to end Nile row
  • Intn'l court reports Sudan to UN
  • Qatari Prime Minister and Dr. Salahuddin Review Developments in Peace Process in Darfur
  • President Al-Bashir Congratulates Premier Zenawi on Winning of his Party in the Ethiopian Elections
  • Minister of Interior Meets Wali of North Kordofan State
  • Sudan slams Human Rights Watch
  • Sudan charges opposition journalist with terrorism
  • Dr. Ismail: UN, AU, Arab League and OIC will Participate in Al-Bashir's Inauguration
  • Dr. Nafie: New Government will be One of United Programme and Vision
  • SDU (UK & I) Ireland Chapter meeting
  • Washington DC Marchers Protest Darfur Genocide
  • Egypt's Citadel starts power project for Sudan cement plant
  • Rwanda: Dialogue Will Resolve the Nile Water Dispute
  • Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir Nominated as Speaker of National Assembly
  • Al-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik: Unity shall be the Best Choice for Southern Citizens
  • Dr. Al-Jaz Launches Electricity Project for Northern Rural Area of Khartoum North
  • Dr. Nafie: Sudanese Workers' Trade Union Federation Plays the Greatest Role in Facing Tyranny
  • Sudanese authorities shut newspaper in crackdown
  • Salva Kiir receives message from Secretary General of the Arab League
  • UN Names Countries, Groups Using Child Soldiers
  • Salva Kiir Inaugurated As President of South Sudan
  • Kiir Pledges to Work for Making Unity the Attractive Option
  • Salva Kiir Sworn in as President of the Government of South Sudan
  • Second Sudanese opposition leader arrested: family
  • Darfur rebels say 200 killed in clashes with army
  • Egyptian Irrigation Minister Declares Joint Sudanese - Egyptian Vision that Includes their Rights on Use of Nile Water
  • Arab - Chinese Cooperation Forum Lauds Sudan Elections
  • Sudan and Egypt Agree to Continue Efforts to Unite Nile Basin Countries
  • Darfur rebel leader's 19-hour standoff ends
  • SUDAN: Key post-referendum issues
  • Debts of Sudan Amount to 37.7 Billion US dollars, IMF Agree to Negotiate with Sudan
  • Slva Kiir Receives Written Message from Eritrean President
  • Dr. Fedail Conveys Message from President Al-Bashir to Ethiopian Prime Minister
  • American woman among 3 aid workers kidnapped in Darfur
  • Darfur Jem leader Khalil Ibrahim stopped in Chad
  • Analysis: Ten years of talks - and still no resolution to Nile controversy
  • Chad Rejects Entry of Khalil Ibrahim to its Territories, Declared him Persona non-Grata Deby to Visit Sudan next Week
  • Dean of Bar Association: Israel Aims to spliting South Sudan
  • Taha Affirms State Commitment to Expand Security and Stability all over the Country
  • SUDAN: Bol Manyiel, "I can still buy more guns with my remaining cattle"
  • Salva Kiir, USAID Official Discuss Food Security Situation
  • U.S. Starts $55 Million Agriculture Program in Southern Sudan
  • Sudan: Govt Arrests Top Bashir Critic
  • Secretary General of the Assembly calls on the Elected Deputies to Attend Procedural Sitting
  • SUDAN: Disarmament doubts in Lakes State
  • Egypt police kill Sudanese migrant near Israel border
  • Sudanese army seizes Jebel Moun JEM base
  • Sudan Arrests Islamist Opposition Leader Turabi
  • Agricultural Bank finalizes preparations to inaugurate 12 branches in Gezira State to focus on micro finance
  • In Phone Call with Al-Qaddafi: President Al-Bashir Affirms Progress of Sudanese - Chadian Relations
  • Fishing festival promotes Sudans fish resources