(By Radio Dabanga)
The northern Sudanese politician Yasir Arman is the official candidate for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to run for the presidential elections 16 April this year. His expected nomination was confirmed this morning by the secretary general of the SPLM, Pa’gan Amum. The vice-president and leader of the SPLM, Salva Kiir, will be nominated for the position of president in Southern Sudan. Pa’gan Amum and Abdel Aziz al Hilu had also been nominated internally in the party as SPLM candidates for the presidency. But Al Hilu will run for governor in his home state South Kordofan. The SPLM has not announced the nomination for Khartoum State since the meeting in the SPLM is still going on. For this position the popular SPLM administrator of the contested Abyei region, Edward Lino has been mentioned as candidate, and likewise Walid Hamid, member of the Khartoum State Legislative Assembly.
Yasir Arman has always been a prominent member of the SPLM. He joined the party after quitting his law-studies at Cairo University in Khartoum. He became a commander in the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the military branch of the SPLM. He had been acting as an official spokesman of the SPLM to the media for several years prior to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 between the SPLA and the government of President Bashir. He was known as one of the announcers of the SPLA radio. He became the deputy chairman of the SPLM for Northern Sudan and was heading the SPLM faction in the parliament. He once was removed from his position in 2007 after travelling to Iowa for study while disappointed in the developments within the SPLM. Later he was reinstated.
SPLM and Darfur
Yasir Arman has been the only top official of the SPLM who visited Darfur after the conflict broke out in 2003. In mid-February 2007, Yasir Arman, made the first official visit to Darfur. He was well received in the IDP camps, according to the reports of the International Crisis Group. He promised to organise a visit for SPLM leader Salva Kiir, but Salva Kiir never travelled to Darfur. He also offered to facilitate a rebel unification conference in southern Sudan. That has led to the Juba Conference. Only smaller rebel factions participated while the main rebel groups (JEM and SLM-Abdel Wahid) did not join the meetings. Arman supported a request for SPLM to help in reconciling warring tribes. Yasir Arman and Pa’gan Amum were recently arrested for demonstrating against the government of President Omar Al Bashir. President Omar Al Bashir resigned last week as head of the armed forces in order to be candidate for the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). Some prominent NCP members speculated that the SPLM would support Bashir’s candidacy, but with Arman’s nomination evidently this did not come to pass.