|The April 11 elections will be Sudan’s first multi-party one in 24 years [Reuters]
Sudan is moving towards landmark elections, the country’s first multi-party polls in 24 years.
Scheduled for April 11, the vote will encompass presidential, legislative and gubernatorial polls.
But the build-up to the elections has been hit by a series of boycotts by opposition political parties complaining of widespread fraud.
Who is boycotting the poll?
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), south Sudan’s leading party, withdraw its presidential candidate on March 31. Yasir Arman was not a high-profile candidate but was still seen as the main challenger to Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s incumbent president.
The SPLM said they would boycott all levels of polls in the western Darfur region because of the conflict there and alleged electoral fraud.
This week the party announced it had decided to extend the boycott into the north except for two states, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, which lie close to the north-south border.
They will take part in elections in the south, where they have a strong support base.
In the north, the Umma party announced it would fully boycott the polls after it said a series of key demands had not been met, including an end of “repressive security measures”, equitable access to state media, public funds for political parties and a commitment to Darfuri representation in the presidency.
What are the opposition’s main grievances?
The opposition alleges that Sudan’s 2008 census has been used to gerrymander electoral districts.
They say counts for regions opposed to al-Bashir were lower than actual numbers, while in areas where he has support the numbers were inflated.
Darfur opposition parties say that Western Darfur, the province where most of the Darfur war victims took refuge, has been given just 15 seats, while Northern Darfur, which is considered a stronghold of al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party, has been given 24 seats.
The opposition also claims the voter registration conducted last year has many flaws that could facilitate vote rigging.
Is the opposition united over the boycott?
No. The other main opposition party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), initially said it would support a total boycott but later changed its stance to say it would take part in the polls following talks with the government. There is speculation that the DUP could be given positions in the government post elections if it takes part.
Meanwhile reports suggest that the opposition rank and file, who have spent money and time campaigning, want to continue with the polls.