(By Radio Dabanga Editor)
The national elections for Sudan, due to take place on April 11th, are causing a major rift between President Omar al Bashir (candidate for the ruling National Congress Party) and all the other parties, including the SPLM. Bashir refused Monday to go ahead with a scheduled meeting with SPLM Chairman Salva Kiir to discuss the complaints raised by 11 opposition parties, including the SPLM. The opposition and SPLM are asking for a new mechanism to handle election related complaints, in the form of an independent committee (see: Elections Flaws and Complaints). The independent radio station Radio Dabanga reports on missing voters’ lists, NCP agents buying voters’ slips from registered voters in the IDP camps in El Fasher and the discovery that ballot papers were printed at a government-owned printing press in Khartoum.
SPLM and the opposition parties called upon the presidency to appoint an independent commission to investigate ‘financial and administrative violations’ by the National Election Commission. This commission should prepare a report before the elections start. The notification letter was sent to the NEC, the Presidency, the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and political parties and election monitors. They ask for a decision within three days.
In another letter earlier this month, the opposition parties – excluding the Popular Congress Party of Al Turabi and the SPLM — proposed to postpone the national elections until November, to redo voter registration, to reprint the national ballots at an independent printing press outside Sudan, and to allow all opposition to campaign on radio and TV.
The 17 parties’ letter to the Presidency requested that it solve these issues. The president refused to answer the letter. The opposition and the SPLM decided last Saturday to wait to make a decision until after the meeting between Omar al Bashir and Salva Kiir planned for today. Since the meeting has been cancelled due to ‘differences about the agenda’, a boycott of the elections by all parties except the NCP of Bashir seems more likely.
Now, Bashir openly threatens to postpone the referendum about self-determination in 2011. The SPLM has not decided whether it will completely or partially boycott the elections. SPLM leader Salva Kiir strongly emphasized that the referendum will not be postponed regardless what will have happened in the elections. His official spokesman, Yien Matthew Chol, told UN radio that the party considers boycotting the elections at all levels, but others say the SPLM might only boycott the elections in the North. This coming Saturday, SPLM and all opposition parties will decide whether to withdraw from the national elections or not.