Saturday,21 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1243, (23 - 29 April 2015)
Saturday,21 October, 2017
Issue 1243, (23 - 29 April 2015)

Ahram Weekly

NCP triumph in Sudan

Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party won a sweeping victory in this week’s parliamentary elections, but lost to independents in some electoral districts, writes Haytham Nouri

Al-Ahram Weekly

Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said this week that the turnout in the country’s parliamentary elections of about one-third of registered voters was “reasonable,” but this did not stop the opposition parties calling it a vote of “no confidence” in the incumbent president Omar Al-Bashir.

Sudan Call, a coalition of opposition parties including the Umma and the Sudanese Communist Party, boycotted the elections. Key figures in Sudan Call said the elections were illegitimate and could not produce a credible government.

Sudan Call said it was in touch with US and European officials and was trying to get them to force the regime to form a transitional government with a mandate of six years. The opposition also demanded no-fly zones be set up in areas of armed conflict, including the Blue Nile, South Kordofan, and Darfur.

Saddiq Youssef, a left-wing Sudanese politician, told the Weekly that the low turnout in the elections brought the regime “back to square one” in terms of legitimacy. Sudan has 20 million eligible voters, of whom only 13 million are registered. Only one-third of the latter showed up for the vote. 

Youssef advised Sudan Call members to hold talks with the regime. “The only alternative to dialogue is war,” he said.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry told some western diplomats that the government intended to resume talks with the opposition after the elections. EU officials were critical of the elections because of their “unsuitable” timing and voiced disappointment over the lack of progress in the country’s national dialogue.

In a telephone interview NCP official Walid Sayed said his Party was not concerned “whether the US and the EU recognise the elections or not.”

“Neither of them is offering development aid to Sudan,” he added.

Observers from the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGA) acknowledged the low turnout, but said the elections had otherwise met international standards.

In the last elections in 2010, reputable international institutions such as the Carter Centre monitored the elections and gave them a clean bill of health. This was a temporary boost to the regime, observers said, and was intended to facilitate the secession of South Sudan.

Rasha Awad, manager of the Al-Taghyir news Website, said it would be “insane” to expect Al-Bashir’s regime to abandon power through elections. “People who commit genocide don’t leave office because the voters tell them to,” she added.

“During the past 25 years, four elections have been held, and the turnout was low in each of them,” Awad said.

The Sudanese Islamist newspaper Al-Intibahah, which is run by the president’s maternal uncle, reported that of all the counted votes, Al-Bashir had won 90 per cent thus far. However, there have been upsets to the NCP in some electoral districts, with independent candidates winning in Abu Hamad and Donogola in the Nahr al-Nil State, Al-Qadarif, and South Kordofan.

Osman, a member of Sudan Call, said this was a sign of divisions within the Islamist movement. The Sudanese Muslim Brotherhood, which is not part of Sudan Call, also boycotted the elections. One Brotherhood official, Ali Gawish, said the elections “could not bring stability” to Sudan.

Fayes Al-Silk, a Sudanese opposition writer, said the regime had created multiple conflicts in the country. There were conflicts among the Islamists, among Al-Bashir’s supporters, and among the African and Arab tribes, he pointed out.

Al-Silk said that the regime was now desperately trying to buy loyalties, but had run out of cash. This was why it joined Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen, he said, so as to “receive Gulf financial aid and use it to buy loyalties.”

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