April 23, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Despite earlier convictions that the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir is headed towards a landslide victory, the voters in the South of the country may prove this theory wrong.
Sudan held its first multi-party elections in more than 24 years, a step that was hoped to bring about the democratic transformation envisioned in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the North and South ending two decades of civil war.
The 2010 polls were marred by widespread accusations of fraud and vote rigging as well as boycott of several major opposition parties. The ones that actually took part refused to recognize the results saying the National Elections Commission (NEC) collaborated with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to skew results in the latter’s favor.
After bitter internal struggle, the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) decided to pull out of all elections in the North with a handful of exceptions. Its presidential candidate Yasir Arman, a secular figure from North Sudan and deputy Secretary General, was believed to be one of Bashir’s major challengers.
However, the pullout is technically irrelevant given that the decision was taken after the window for withdrawing meaning that Arman’s name still shows on the ballots.
Today it emerged from several well placed sources at the SPLM and other figures as well as Sudan Tribune reporters, that despite the boycott, Arman has secured an overwhelming majority in the South leaving Bashir trailing well behind. The sources gave figures as high as 90% in favor of the SPLM candidate with as little as 5% for the NCP contestant.
The SPLM SG Pagan Amum hinted to this info saying that the party is not keen on the national presidency pointing out that even if Arman wins, he will not take up the position. He further said that preliminary results show more than 90% lead for Arman in Southern Sudan.
On the other hand, the NCP election officer Ibrahim Ghandour today said that Bashir is ahead of all candidates in South Sudan but gave no exact figures.
The South Sudan corroborative sources said that around 4 million registered voters turned out at the ballot boxes. The total turnout in the entire county is not clear given conflicting numbers of registered voters given to international observers.
The NEC announced that 16 million registered to vote in the entire country . However, some sources close to the NEC say that the actual voters’ figures are around 30% lower equaling a little over 12 million. They note that the 60% turnout figures mean that only 8.5 million turned out to vote with fewer than 50% in the South.
If the numbers are accurate this would theoretically mean that Bashir may in best case scenario barely manage to achieve the 50%+1 majority required to be declared winner.
The NCP said that the incumbent president won 90% of the votes in North Sudan but it is not clear if this includes the Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains and South Kordofan areas which are believed to be hostile to the NCP.
The NEC is already four days overdue in announcing the results of the presidential elections attributing that to delays in receiving results from other states particularly those in the South.
The electoral body has so far made no announcement on partial results for presidential candidate in the South as they did in the North. One senior SPLM official told Sudan Tribune on condition of anonymity that the NEC "is seeking to manipulate the votes and make Bashir’s numbers look better than the actual ones" in light of the disappointing outcome in the South hence the delay.
The NCP leader has made long tours in the South of the country during his campaign promising to respect their choices should they choose secession in the 2011 referendum in a subtle message that voting for him will be a guarantee that the ruling party will abide by the outcome of the self determination vote.
Bashir is seeking a decisive re-election to gain legitimacy in face of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant issued for him on charges of war crimes in Darfur.
Last week, an aide to Bashir, Nafie Ali Nafie, said that Bashir’s re-election would prove allegations against him by the ICC as "false."
According to the electoral law, any candidate who does not get the 50%+1 majority then a second round is conducted between the first two winners.
However, the SPLM is likely to skip on a run-off should Arman be one of the two top candidates. Many opposition parties have said they would unite behind the candidate against Bashir in a second round vote. Most observers believe that the SPLM is wary of angering the NCP fearing that this would jeopardize the 2011 referendum.
Earlier this month, the Umma Reform and Renewal Party (URRP) chief Mubarak Al-Fadil told the Dubai based Al-Arabiya TV that Bashir dispatched his adviser Salah Gosh with a firm message to Kiir of the consequences of not pulling Arman from the race.
According to Al-Fadil, the Sudanese president said that under no circumstances will there be a second round in the presidential elections and that the army will stage a coup should it appears that Arman has an edge in the elections.
The SPLM denied the claims by Al-Fadil stressing that they have rejected all similar pleas from the NCP.