By Paul Ndiho
APIRL 27, 2010
After being declared the winner in April’s presidential elections that international observers, particularly the Carter Center and the European Union said were deeply flawed, earlier this week, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir joined party supporters and officials to celebrate and show the world that he has been elected president by majority of Sudanese in the first open elections in more than 20 years.
The celebrations were loud and boisterous. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir — the only sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court — won Sudan’s first multiparty elections in 24 years. The elections received a mixed assessment from political observers with the African Union declaring them “free and fair.” While the United States and others say the elections fell short of international standards. David Smock is vice president and director, Center for mediation and conflict resolution, Religion and Peacemaking program at the U.S Institute Of Peace in Washington
“There was minimal violence but it didn’t have a great deal of meaning because the international observers, particularly the Carter Center and the European Union said the elections were deeply flawed, most of the opposition candidates in the north running against Bashir had withdrawn and boycotted the election.”
A breakdown of the presidential vote shows great support for President Bashir in the north. While Salva Kiir, President of the semi-autonomous southern region, easily won re-election with 92.percent of the vote.
“I shall be the president of all southern Sudanese, without any distinction based on party allegiance, regional provenance, ethnic origin or religious faith, so please mark those words and let us move together.
With the elctions now behind them, Sudan begins to focus on next year’s referendum on independence for the south, a vote President Bashir has pledged to respect. But David Smock says the government in Khartoum faces many challenges including Darfur, an issue complicated by Mr. Bashir’s international indictment for alleged war crimes in Darfur.
There have been on again off again negotiations in Doha, particularly between the Bashir government and the Gem, one of the major rebel groups and some discussions with some of the other rebel groups, but while there has been an agreement on a ceasefire, with the Gem, the details of what a peace agreement would look like have not really been worked out in any significant way, so they definitely need progress on that front for Sudan to be able to go forward.” He said.
And forward means continuing the implementation of the 2005 peace deal that ended the Sudanese civil war.