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Displaced reject Sudan President's campaign in Darfur

April 1 - 2016 EL FASHER / ZALINGEI / EL GENEINA
A ballot paper for the Darfur administrative referendum from 11-13 April 2016. Citizens can vote on whether or not the region will maintain its five states, or will be reunited as one state.
A ballot paper for the Darfur administrative referendum from 11-13 April 2016. Citizens can vote on whether or not the region will maintain its five states, or will be reunited as one state.

President Omar Al Bashir's has started touring Darfur for the administrative referendum on 11 April. An African Union team arrived in the Sudanese capital to monitor the three-day administrative referendum. Bashir's campaign has led to discontent among displaced people, who complained that the visit is “provocative”.

Al Bashir visits El Fasher on Friday and plans to tour all five states before the voting begins on 13 April. State Governor Adbdel Wahid Yousif said he expects the President to address the Sudanese nation on Friday and issue directives for the referendum.

On Thursday, a team of the African Union arrived in Khartoum. Its observers come from Uganda, Ivory Coast, and Egypt, security official of the referendum Ibrahim Diraig told reporters. The chairman of the Union of Journalists from Zimbabwe and a number of journalists are expected to follow the team.

'Encouraging crimes'

Omda Ahmed Ateem, the coordinator of the North Darfur camps, described Al Bashir's visit as “provocative for the people of Darfur and the international community alike, in defiance of the international will”.

He told Radio Dabanga that Al Bashir's visit will exasperate the suffering of the inhabitants of the region by encouraging those who commit crimes in Darfur, especially in the Jebel Marra area.

Ateem demanded from the UN Security Council, which has the world’s largest peacekeeping mission in Darfur together with the African Union, not to remain silent towards the crimes that are committed against the peacekeepers, and move immediately to stop them.

The referendum allows all citizens currently in Darfur to vote from 11 to 13 April on whether or not the region will keep its five states or reunite as one entity with a semi-autonomous administration. The refenredum was part of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, that was signed by the government and former rebel groups in 2011.

Rejecting visit

Camp coordinators in Central Darfur have asked the displaced people in the camps and citizens in towns to reject the presidential visit “because of the ongoing attacks on civilians in Jebel Marra and the suppression of freedoms.

“An administrative referendum that was rejected by the citizens, is going to be hold,” camp coordinator El Shafie Abdallah warned in an interview with Radio Dabanga. He called upon camp residents to carry out peaceful rallies against the visit of Al Bashir.

Authorities in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, have banned street vendors and workers from working at the market in preparation for the presidential visit next week. A listener from the city told this station that the state government also closed the main roads in El Geneina in order to be cleaned for the reception of the President.

While several Darfurian parties and groups call to maintain the current administrative division, the head of the Darfur Regional Authority, El Tijani Sese, has called for the reunion of the five states under one administrative entity. Armed and political opposition groups are opposed to the vote, as peace and the provision of aid in Darfur is the priority.


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