July 28, 2008 (JUBA) — Former rebels from eastern Sudan are in talks to draw up an electoral alliance with counterparts in southern Sudan in a bid to unseat President Omer al-Bashir, one of its members said on Monday.
Osman Musa Bawanin, chairman of the Beja Congress advocating the rights of people in eastern Sudan, said his group had agreed with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement a 40-item memorandum on how to execute the campaigns.
"We want to go into a strong alliance at all levels of the elections," said Bawanin in the southern capital, Juba.
"The Beja Congress will actually support the SPLM for the presidency."
The eastern former rebels have been meeting their southern counterparts in Juba to thrush out details of the deal, Bawanin added.
Southerners who fought a 21-year civil war with Khartoum until a 2005 power-sharing agreement and a promise of national elections, first agreed last December to back candidates from eastern Sudan.
Under the 2005 peace agreement that ended the north-south civil war, Sudan must hold presidential and parliamentary elections by July 2009.
A new electoral law was approved by parliament on July 7, around two and a half years behind schedule. An independent electoral commission must be set up within a month of the law being passed.
Some analysts suggest Bashir, who faces the prospect of an international arrest warrant on 10 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western region of Darfur, will do everything possible to stay in power.
Top decision makers within the SPLM, the leading political party in the south that fought against Bashir’s regime, met in Juba last weekend to discuss a strategy for the elections.
"Our working relationship with the other southern parties is strong and we are going to maintain it," deputy SPLM secretary general Yasser Arman told reporters.
The Beja Congress has been banned by various regimes and in the early 1990s it began an armed rebellion backed by Eritrea.
"We believe in coming together with the SPLM, because historically, we in eastern Sudan are fighting for the marginalised people. We have common historical goals and objectives," said Bawanin.