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Parties oppose holding of Darfur referendum

January 15 - 2016 KHARTOUM
Woman puts her vote in a ballot box during the elections in 2010 (EU EEAS 2010)
Woman puts her vote in a ballot box during the elections in 2010 (EU EEAS 2010)

The opposition political forces of the Sudan Appeal, the coalition of the National Consensus Forces and other political forces that are participating in the national dialogue have strongly opposed the adminstrative referendum for Darfur, to be held in April this year.

The people in Darfur can opt for the current status of five states or for a return of Darfur as one large state or province in the country. The Darfur referendum is stipulated in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) that was signed in July 2011.

Mohamed Mukhtar El Khatib, the secretary-general of the Sudanese Communist Party, claimed that the division of Darfur into states was for the benefit of the regime, and not the people of Darfur. “They adhere to and demand the one province.

“The regime has expanded the division of Darfur into states on tribal basis,” El Khatib told Radio Dabanga. He said that the continuation of the war in Darfur was the result of greed over the land and water resources.

“There are no freedoms and the regime is now known for rigging all the elections including those of popular committees, general elections, and referendums. It is not a suitable time for holding this referendum, in which the government must achieve the desire of the people of Darfur in one province.”

'In the light of the current insecurity in Darfur, this may lead to the emergence of new conflicts in a new province.'

The referendum will be held in all 63 Darfur localities. About 1,400 registration and polling centres will be established, said the Darfur Referendum Commission on Tuesday.

The Popular Congress Party, participant in the ongoing national dialogue in Khartoum, has described the government’s holding of the referendum as “casting dust in eyes and an attempt to waste the fundamental rights of the citizens of Darfur”.

Kamal Omar Abdelsalam, the political secretary of the party and also a member of the coordination mechanism for the dialogue, commented to Radio Dabanga on Thursday that the issue of Darfur can only be resolved within the framework of a comprehensive solution to the country’s crisis.

For its part, the Sudanese Congress Party also opposes the referendum on the administrative status of Darfur. On Thursday Dr. El Fateh El Sayed, the deputy head of the party, told Radio Dabanga that a referendum in Darfur “in light of the current circumstances of insecurity, tribal wars, the war of the government and its militias against all the people of Darfur and the armed movements” may lead to the emergence of new conflicts in the new province.

For the Darfuris themselves, the administrative status is not their main concern. “What the people in Darfur want most is not a referendum but their being able to lead a decent and secure life in their villages of origin,” a Darfuri human rights lawyer told Radio Dabanga in October.  

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