Category Archives: North Africa

IGAD endorses Sudan’s elections

Sudan Tribune

April 17, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) approved of the conduct of the Sudanese elections and declared that it conformed with international standards and was credible overall.

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A Sudanese electoral worker breaks the seal on a ballot box as they begin the process of counting votes for the presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum, Sudan, Friday, April 17, 2015 (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)

Mohammud Abdulahi Hussien, head of IGAD elections monitoring team, said that they successfully deployed their observers to eight states and urged candidates to accept the results or else challenge it through legal venues if needed.

At a press conference he also urged all parties to engage in the national dialogue process launched by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir last year.

Hussien urged officials to train election workers to raise awareness among youngsters whom he said mostly refrained from voting this time around.

The IGAD official acknowledged logistical issues that hindered elections in several states but nonetheless said that the National Elections Commission (NEC) performance improved relative to 2010.

He also underlined the high level of participation and inclusion of women in the voting process.

Yesterday the African Union (AU) team led by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo called for “enhancing” freedoms that would make for a more credible vote.

“I said there are a few things that could have [been] taken that could have made the quality of fairness and freedom to have been enhanced. But I will not say it is absolutely un-free or unfair,” Obasanjo said.

“Some measures could have been taken to enhance that,” he added.

The AU team affirmed that voter turnout was low and said it could be a result of boycott by opposition parties.

“It is not unlikely that the boycott has had some effect on the turnout of voters,” the AU team said in its preliminary assessment released today.

“The extension [of voting for an extra day] for the whole country was to allow more voters to cast their ballots”.

Obasanjo said on Thursday that the vote would likely not exceed 40%.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) issued a statement on Friday hailing the smooth conduct of the elections and its credibility despite attempts to derail it in several states by rebels.

It thanked observers who ignored western pressures and came to monitor the elections.

The vote counting has begun on Friday morning after polls were closed in most of the country on Thursday evening.

Partial results showed a handful of wins for independent and non-NCP candidates particularly in the northern states of Sudan.

But observers nonetheless expect a sweeping win for NCP candidates in all elections including presidency.

Sudan – two presidential candistes pull out of race

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Two candidates running for presidency in the Sudanese elections said that they have decided to drop out of the race in protest at what they describe as serious violations committed by the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

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A man waits to check for his name at an official at a polling station on the third day of elections in Khartoum on 15 April 2015 (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

The NEC said Wednesday that it would extend the voting period nationwide by an extra day until Thursday evening without stating the reasons. Observers however attributed it to the poor voter turnout.

Ahmed Radi, one of the two withdrawing candidates, toldSudan Tribune that the NEC extension decision and low voter turnout prompted him to make that move.

Radi said he would formally inform the NEC of his decision on Thursday and noted that the NEC chairman told him that they will declare a winner any presidential candidate who receives a mere 50.1% of the votes.

The second candidate Omer Awad al-Karim also announced his withdrawal calling the elections a “farce”.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Karim said that his conscience and his sense of responsibility towards the nation and the people compelled him to stay away from “the play designed to trick the Sudanese people in the name of democracy”.

He cited several breaches including absence of serial numbers on the ballots, making the pre-elections silence period two days instead of one as stated by the electoral code and accepting residency affidavits in lieu of government identification for voters.

“As for what was happening inside the [polling] centres in terms of wrongdoing and abuses called irregularities by the NEC … I have seen with my own eyes offences happening that are contrary to the electoral law,” Karim said.

He also claimed that the NEC did not direct its staff to verify identities of face-veiled women opening the possibility of allowing duplicate voting.

Another presidential candidate by the name of Mahmoud Abdul-Jabbar said he rejects extending the voting process in the state of Khartoum, saying “This is totally unacceptable for us”.

“The extension will enable the ruling party to rig the elections dramatically and solicit people who do not have any proof of identity and give them residency affidavits to cast their votes,” he told Sudan Tribune.

“We are against the extension [of voting] in Khartoum state even for one hour,” he added, claiming outright fraud had been committed in the voting process.

Alam al-Huda Hamid, another presidential candidate, said the extension was due to voter numbers falling short of required quorum.

But he warned that the extension may spoil the electoral process and make it “messy” and lacking credibility based on democratic and international standards.

The Associated Press (AP) said that to increase turnout, Sudanese authorities gave awards for polling stations with high turnout.

Sudan Tribune reporter has seen attempts by supporters of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to convince voters in some neighbourhoods of Khartoum to cast their ballots by offering them free rides to the polling stations.

At one Khartoum polling centre in the upper-middle-class neighbourhood of al-Riyadh, turnout was only 15% after three days of voting, election official Youssef Ibrahim told AP.

Other workers spread out mattresses in the empty poll place while some drank tea.

“Even if you give people a month, they won’t come if they don’t want to come,” Ibrahim said. “The people are fed up. After 25 years, people have had enough.”

About 13.6 million people are eligible to vote across the country. The poll results are expected on 27 April.


Sudan – election extended for a day and people told to vote

Radio Dabenga

Sudan election extended with one day, police ordered to vote

April 16 – 2015 KHARTOUM
An empty polling centre in Khartoum, 13 April 2015 (RD)
An empty polling centre in Khartoum, 13 April 2015 (RD)

The National Election Commission (NEC) on Wednesday announced the extension of the official three-day voting process with one day. Two presidential candidates announced their withdrawal. The police in Khartoum was pressured to vote. 

Because of the very poor voters’ turnout throughout the country, the NEC on Tuesday had already extended the voting time for Wednesday, the third and officially the last day of the presidential and parliamentary election, from 6pm to 7pm.

“The extension of the voting period will enable the ruling party to rig the election dramatically.”

A number of presidential candidates rejected the extension of the election period. Mahmoud Abdeljabar toldSudan Tribune that the extension “will enable the ruling party to rig the election dramatically and solicit people who do not have any proof of identity, and give them residency affidavits to cast their votes.”

Two presidential candidates, Ahmed Radi and Omar Awadelkareem, announced their withdrawal, in protest against “serious violations” of the electoral law.

At a press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday, Awadelkareem pointed to the abuses he had witnessed at several polling stations in the capital, “called irregularities by the NEC”. He had noted that the serial numbers were missing on the ballots, and that voters were allowed to identify themselves with residency affidavits, instead of their voter registration cards.

‘No vote, no salary’

A policeman in Khartoum reported to Radio Dabanga on Wednesday that senior police officers ordered their personnel to participate in the elections by voting for the ruling party. If they would not cast their vote, the payment of their salaries would be delayed or cancelled.

“We were instructed to present our electoral registration number to the police administrative unit, to ensure our participation in the election.”

Sudan – African Union panel says no chance of credible elections 

Sudan Tribune

April 14, 2015 (WASHINGTON) – An African Union (AU) panel tasked with evaluating the pre-elections environment in Sudan concluded that it would not be possible to hold credible polls in the East African nation, recommending that the pan-African body not send a monitoring mission.

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A Sudanese woman casts her ballot on the first day of Sudan’s presidential and legislative elections in Izba, an impoverished neighbourhood on the outskirts of Khartoum, on 13 April 2015 (Photo: AP/Mosa’ab Elshamy)

“The overall political environment is restrictive, which impacted on political participation by other stakeholders, including opposition parties, civil society and the media. Media houses and civil society organisations were barred from discussing issues relating to the conflict in the country and certain political and social topics,” the pre-election assessment mission said in its report submitted to the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) last month.

“Those who ignored this ruling either have their licenses withdrawn or arrested and detained by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). Thus, freedom of expression, association and assembly were generally not respected,” the report adds.

The committee noted that it held meetings with all stakeholders including officials in the Sudanese government and the National Elections Commission (NEC), political parties, civil society groups, media representatives, candidates, Political Party Affairs Council, the Human Rights Commission, parliament, the AU-UN hybrid operations in Darfur (UNAMID), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), AU liaison office to Sudan, Arab League, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), African ambassadors, European Union (EU) and the troika countries’ (US, UK and Norway) ambassadors in Khartoum.

It added that asidefrom the government, NEC, representatives of public institutions, the Arab League envoy and some African ambassadors, most stakeholders wanted the AU to “distance itself from observing the elections”.

The mission led by Idrissa Kamara said the elections will take place amid “intense political polarisation”, against the backdrop of ongoing armed conflict in several parts of the country and international sanctions.

It concluded that that “the necessary conditions and environment for the holding of transparent, competitive, free and fair elections as agreed in the AU principles governing democratic elections have not been satisfied”.

“The existing government’s security measures put substantial restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly and do not provide an environment for free participation in the electoral process,” the report found.

The committee recommended that the AU not send an observation mission, saying that doing so “under this circumstance would not be viable and effective and would not contribute to democracy building”.

It called for the polls to be postponed in favour of furthering the national dialogue process initiated by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir last year on the basis that this would “allow more time for the creation of an enabling environment for credible, transparent and competitive elections”.

In a meeting held last week, the AUPSC brushed aside the findings and recommendations in the report and decided to send an observation mission headed by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo to monitor the three-day presidential and parliamentary electios, which got underway on Monday.

The decision drew strong criticism from the country’s rebel group, which expressed anger at the AUPSC for ignoring the recommendations of the pre-elections committee.

The country’s main opposition forces are boycotting the elections in which 15 little known candidates are challenging the incumbent. The voter turnout was very low in the first two days of the polls.

The ruling party had rejected calls by Sudanese opposition to postpone the general elections until after the national dialogue and formation of a transitional government and insists that it is a constitutional requirement that must be met.

Bashir launched the national dialogue initiative more than a year ago in which he urged opposition parties and rebels alike to join the dialogue table to discuss all the pressing issues.

But the initiative faced serious setbacks after rebel groups and leftist parties refused to join and after the National Umma Party (NUP) led by al-Sadiq al-Mahdi withdrew from the process in protest of al-Mahdi’s brief arrest last May.

Earlier this year, several political parties including the Reform Now Movement (RNM) led by Ghazi Salah al-Din and the Just Peace Forum (JPF) led by al-Tayeb Mustafa and the Alliance of the Peoples’ Working Forces (APWF) announced they had decided to suspend participation in the national dialogue until the requirements of a conducive environment are met.

Last Thursday the EU announced that it will not send a mission to observe this elections.

“When dialogue is bypassed, some groups are excluded and civil and political rights are infringed, the upcoming elections cannot produce a credible result with legitimacy throughout the country,” said a statement by EU representative of foreign affairs and security affairs and vice-president of the commission, Federica Mogherini.

“The people of Sudan deserve better. We therefore chose not to engage in support of these elections,” she added.

Canadian foreign minister Rob Nicholson echoed the same sentiments.

“Canada is disappointed by the failure of Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, to deliver on his promise to hold an inclusive national dialogue in the lead-up to the Sudanese general and presidential elections,” he said in a statement.

Over the past year, Sudanese authorities have been accused of repeatedly seizing newspaper print runs, ordering political arrests, including those of opposition leaders, and hindering election activities and targeting civilians in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

“These actions have obstructed the emergence of a free and open democratic process and have led many opposition parties to boycott the elections. As a result, the outcome of the elections will not reflect the will of all Sudanese people,” said Nicholson.


Sudan – UN says 14 killed in air strikes in Darfur

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese army warplanes killed 14 civilians during an airstrike carried out in Central Darfur state a week ago, said the UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

“The Joint AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is able to confirm the dropping of 10 bombs which led to the killing of 14 civilians and the wounding of 18 others in Rowata, Central Darfur, on April 1st,”. Dujarric said at a press conference at the UN Headquarters on Tuesday.

The Sudanese army conducts regular aerial raids on the positions of rebel groups in the region since the start of this year. However, the government recently intensified the airstrikes in Darfur ahead of general elections which will take within a week.

The rebel groups vowed to disrupt the electoral process in solidarity with a campaign launched by the opposition forces calling to boycott the elections.

Dujarric said the army continue the attacks adding bombs dropped in the area failed to kill peacekeepers who were present in the area on Monday.

“Yesterday, a verification patrol was dispatched to Rowata; while it was in the village, the team witnessed another aerial bombardment, consisting of five bombs dropped close to where they were standing”.

The UN Mission strongly condemns such aerial bombings, which cause widespread death, destruction and displacement of populations, he further said.

UN agencies say there are 31,800 new displaced persons affected by the military campaign “Decisive Summer” on the rebel position in some parts of Jebel Marra area in Central and North Darfur states.


Sudan -opposition calls for boycott of next week’s elections

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Opposition Sudan Call forces called to boycott the presidential and legislative elections the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) prepare to organise on 13 April and exhorted to step up efforts to topple the regime.

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Sadiq al Mahdi, Farouk Abu Issa and Minni Minnawi join hands after the signing of the Sudan Call in Addis Ababa on 3 December 2014 (ST)

In a statement issued on the 30th anniversary of 6 April 1985 popular uprising which ended the rule of general Jafar Numiri, the coalition of the political and armed opposition forces said the government obstructed the African Union brokered pre-dialogue meeting and aborted the German initiative to facilitate a negotiated settlement.

The statement further said by doing so, the NCP insists to move forward in the path of war and rejects a negotiated solution, leaving the choice of a peaceful uprising for the opposition forces.

“Thus the Sudan Call forces appeal on the masses of our people to escalate the resistance against the fraudulent elections and overlook its, results and to continue the resistance campaigns until the overthrow of the regime,” the opposition forces said.

National Umma Party (NUP) leader Sadiq al-Mahdi on Sunday accused the NCP of using all the means of the Sudanese state to ensure the reelection of its leader and the party candidates.

He further described the regime of president Bashir as “volatile” saying they sold their Islamist ideology and sought to reach agreements with rebel groups to ensure the continuation of their rule.

The Sudan Call forces said they agreed to develop their activities and intensify efforts to reunite the opposition forces.

The statement is signed by NUP chairman Sadiq al-Mahdi, Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) chief Malik Agar, National Consensus Forces (NCF) representative Mohamed Mukhtar al-Khateib and civil society groups delegate , Babikir Ahmed al-Hassan.

Since last February , the opposition groups launched a political campaign “Leave” calling on the Sudanese to boycott the general elections and deprive the regime of legitimacy.


Sudan – Darfur agreement between government and Minnawi group

Sudan Tribune

(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese government and a number of Darfur rebel commanders led by Mohamedain Ismail Bashar, a former operation commander of the Sudan Liberation Movement -Minni Minnawi, signed a peace agreement in the Chadian capital Ndjamena on Friday.

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Head of Darfur peace office, Amin Hassan Omer (L) shakes hands with Mohamedain Bashar in Ndjamena on 27 March 2015 (SMC photo)

Bashar’s group is composed of several dissident rebel commanders who on 7 October 2014 accused their leader of nepotism, corruption and illegal detention of some leading members. Two weeks later, Minnawi sacked four commander and accused them of treason and communication with the enemy.

The peace agreement was signed by the head of Darfur peace office Amin Hassan Omer, and Bashar, in presence of the Chadian foreign minister Moussa al-Faki, representing president Idris Debi who facilitated the deal.

The parties didn’t release the text of the signed deal but Sudan Tribune learnt it is a security arrangements agreement negotiated on the basis of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

Omer welcomed the agreement and said that it was the first time that confidence building and cooperation between the two parties take place before the signing. He further called on the rebel groups to follow this example.

Bashar’s group strength is estimated at around 400 combatants with 30 vehicles.

Former SLM-MM military spokesperson Adam Saleh Abakar, the group logistics officer Abdalla Tijani and former humanitarian official Adam Buy-Dad are among Bashar’s group members.

Several sources told [Sudan Tribune that the signatories were is relation with JEM-Sudan leader Bakheit Abdallah Abdel-Karim (Dabajo) who encouraged them to negotiate with the government.

Dabajo himself before to join JEM was part of the SLM-MM.

The African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) called Darfur rebel groups including SLM-MM and their political allies of the Sudan Call forces to meet with the government next Sunday to discuss procedures of the national dialogue process.