Tuesday, April 27, 2010

President Al-Bashir Secures New Term in Sudan, Attention Turns to Southern Referendum in 2011

Bashir secures a new term, attention turns to South Sudan referendum in 2011

April 26, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The leader of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and incumbent president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir was officially proclaimed a winner in Sudan elections, a result which surprised no one inside the country or abroad.

Bashir’s First Vice president and current president of South Sudan Salva Kiir also won the presidential race in the semi-autonomous region.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) chairman Abel Alier announced that Bashir received 68% of the votes (6,901,694) while Kiir garnered a whopping 93% (2,616,613) as the candidate for the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the South.

Sudan’s first multiparty presidential, parliamentary and local elections in 24 years were a key requirement of a 2005 peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war between the predominantly Arab and Muslim north and rebels in the Christian-animist south.

The polls fell short of international standards, observers have said, but fell short of saying the vote is invalid.

The poll for president was marred by the withdrawal of SPLM candidate Yasir Arman and another key Bashir challenger, the Umma Party’s leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi. The elections were also overshadowed by logistical problems and delays including polling stations opening late or not at all, names misspelled or missing from registration lists and ballot boxes delivered to the wrong place.

The opposition parties alleged widespread fraud and vote rigging primarily to keep Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), in power. Bashir is accused by the Hague-based court of orchestrating war crimes in Sudan Western’ region of Darfur.

Human Rights Watch stressed in a statement today that the win gave Bashir no extra legal immunity against the ICC charges.

The European Union (EU) echoed the same position saying there can be no impunity for those like Bashir, facing serious charges under international law.

A statement by EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg welcomed "the largely peaceful conduct of the recent election" but expressed concerns about "the counting and aggregation of results" as identified by EU observers.

The EU "expresses concern about the deficiencies in relation to international standards," the ministers

The EU statement insisted that "impunity for the most serious crimes under international law can never be accepted." The 27 EU nations reiterated support for the ICC and called on the Sudan authorities "to cooperate fully with the ICC in accordance with its obligations under international law

Opposition parties dismissed the vote result as farce.

"They cooked the figures — (Bashir) didn’t get 51 percent of the vote," UMMA Reform and Renewal Party (URRP) leader Mubarak al-Fadil told Reuters. "His campaign was conducted under one party system with all the foundations of a police state ... it was a farce."

Arman said on Monday he believed Bashir had "lost," judging by the number of abstentions and accusations of fraud.

"I believe Bashir lost the elections," Arman told reporters in the capital

"The National Election Commission told us there were 16 million Sudanese who registered and Bashir got six million and this six million (figure) is contested... that means 10 million Sudanese do not want Bashir," he said.

"These elections were fraudulent and non-democratic. The coalition of opposition rejects the results. We consider them null and void," Yusuf Sideeg, a senior communist party official, told AFP.

Mariam Al-Sadiq, a senior member of the Umma party which had pulled out of the race, said the election results are "morally more corrupt" than the coup that brought al-Bashir to power and called the voting "a costly and ineffective experience."

The elected president appeared on national television shortly after the results to declare "the success of these elections is in essence a success for the Sudanese people." He promised to reach out to all forces in Sudan to form a national "partnership" and vowed to make sure that the referendum takes place.

The pro-government Al-Rayaam newspaper said that Bashir and his aides met on Sunday to discuss the future formation of the government.

"You gave us your trust," he said. "I reaffirm I will go ahead with the southern referendum on time and complete the peace process in Darfur". He hailed the Sudanese people saying that they "have achieved this moral victory before the eyes of the world in a civilized, high class and shared manner."

The Sudanese president celebrated with his jubilant supporters at the NCP headquarters in the capital. He is flying to Egypt on Tuesday for talks with president Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm Al-Sheik.

Cairo is concerned over the overwhelming sentiment of Southerners to secede in the 2011 referendum primarily over Nile water agreements. Egypt is at odds with other Nile basin countries over re-allocation of water share.

Bashir has stressed in his speech today that Sudan would hold the southern referendum "as scheduled". Most observers fear a return to war between North and South if the referendum is not held on time. The South holds most of the country’s reserves of oil which is currently shared with the North.

Darfur rebels also rejected the outcome of the elections saying it will complicate matters.

"We believe that the international community goal of implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and conduct a referendum on self-determination must not be an excuse for the recognition of Bashir and his blessing, this is unacceptable from the Sudanese people in general and the people of Darfur in particular. These election were rigged and do not reflect the opinion of the Sudanese citizens and the international community taken into account" Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur leader of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) said.

"Things in our country are not going according to what the people of Sudan wanted. This is going to lead to tension and chaos," Ahmed Hussein, the spokesman for Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said. "People are not going to accept al-Bashir for another five years."


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