SUDAN ELECTION BOYCOTT SENDS OUT MIXED MASSAGES
BY PAUL NDIHO
APRIL 6, 2010
Less than a week before Sudan’s first multi-party elections, opposition parties are threatening to boycott the poll, which they say is rigged in favor of the incumbent president, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir
Sudan’s first general elections in more than 24 years are drawing mixed reactions from the Sudanese people and international observers. Some are saying it is essential for the poll to succeed, while others agree with the decision of opposition parties not to participate.
“The elections should be delayed, many voters don’t know the programs for the candidates, many parties didn’t give their opinions because there is no freedom in the country, no freedom and not enough time, and the government puts many obstacles in front of the parties”
But many on the streets in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, say that the elections should take place on time, and all concerned Sudanese should go and cast their votes.
“The peace in Sudan is related to these elections, and these elections give the Sudanese citizen his freedom to say his opinion, we are against the boycott and it should be on time.”
Howard University professor, Suleiman Nyang, says that the political situation in Sudan is complicated. “Sudan situation is problematic. Bashir and Northern Sudan would like to maintain Sudan as one unity. However, opposition to the Northern hegemony is still very strong in the South.”
Apart from the Umma party leader, the main opposition presidential withdrew last week, saying the vote was “rigged” for the incumbent, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. But Sudan’s women are well represented in the coming election, as some 500 female candidates will be on the ballot for various seats. An elections commission spokesman says women are slowly entering politics in Sudan:
“In Sudan, we need to go gradually, because we have to make sure women participate. Maybe if the women proved that they can actually take part in the political life in Sudan so actively and so well – in the next elections maybe it will be normal that they can share in the different constituencies just like men.”
Over the weekend, Sudan’s elections commission announced that the first multi-party polls would go ahead on time, despite opposition demands for a four week delay. The U.S Special envoy Scott Gration says Sudan’s polls will be open and fair.
“It gives me confidence that the elections will start on time, and that they will be as free and as fair as possible, these people have gone to great links to ensure that the people of Sudan will have access to polling places and the procedures and process will ensure transparency and people vote will get registered and counted in best way possible.”
Gration says that while the vote in Sudan will proceed, a comprehensive and lasting peace there requires the participation of all of the country’s political factions.