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Sudan’s 2015 Elections: A huge step in democratic consolidation

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PRESS AND INFORMATION RELEASE (2/2015)

Sudan’s 2015 Elections: A Huge Step in Democratic Consolidation

AU and AL observers witness proof of the will of voters.

At a time in which most of Sudan’s neighbours and the wider region suffer from conflict, instability and terrorist bloodshed, the Government of one of the few oases of reasonable stability, Sudan, embarked on its first constitutionally stipulated democratic consolidation elections after the secession of South Sudan. Instead of appreciation and encouragement, the declared schedule of April 2015 elections was met with negative comments, some emanating from international actors whose questionable political assessments and analyses resulted in the current tragic events engulfing the whole region.

Anti-Elections rhetoric was raised several weeks before the elections actually took place. Speaking at Chatham House on 29 October last year, the leader of the Umma Party, explained that the elections would be rigged the way the 2010 elections were and held this as an excuse for boycotting the polls, ignoring the fact that the 2010 election brought about the widely recognised secession in South Sudan which raises questions about double-standards when it comes to Sudan policies. Several armed warlords issued statements threatening to stop the scheduled elections. Both the suspicion of rigging and the threat to disrupt turned out to be without foundation.

The bastion of African integrity, the African Union (AU) has again demonstrated African will and integrity. Its African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) issued a statement on 17 April 2015 documenting the adequacy of polling stations. It added “The Mission notes that the polling process was generally peaceful save for a few security incidents reported elsewhere. The mission therefore commends the people of Sudan for their peaceful conduct”. It concluded “Everything taken together, the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) reached the conclusion that the results of the election would reflect the expression of the will of the voters of Sudan”.

No “rigging” recorded; but security incidents, a reference to the killing of four citizens by the random shelling that has failed to impede the electoral process.

The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) called on the Sudanese political leaders “to strive for genuine and inclusive national dialogue after the elections”.

This was the declared position of the government when the opposition stalled the National Dialogue by obstructive declarations (Paris, Berlin and Addis Ababa).

The Arab League’s (AL) 40 observers travelled to all States of the country during the elections. They stated that the elections were carried out “transparently and in accordance with international standards”.

Other international bodies, whose bias was clear in their refusal even to send observers, have criticised the elections (without indicating an alternative). The claim that unrest in some isolated peripheries reduces the validity of elections does not hold water; because Northern Ireland suffered serious “troubles” for decades and that didn’t stop UK elections. The Sudan itself-before secession-held several elections despite the second civil war.

As far as the low turn-out is concerned, the phenomenon is not only Sudanese. The membership of all major parties in the UK is about 1% of the electorate and a suggestion has even been floated to make voting compulsory for first time voters to overcome this voter apathy.

Especially disappointing was the statement by the Troika (Norway, UK, USA) (dated 20 April 2015) whose members have been financially and diplomatically supportive in brokering the CPA and helping the Sudan during the transitional period until the peaceful secession of South Sudan.

Unlike the African Union’s statement, the terse Troika statement made no mention of the list of positive features of the electoral process. It “regretted” the government’s policies but shied away from openly condemning the terrorist attacks by SPLM-N that resulted in killing four citizens in South Kordofan, but failed to derail the voting. Terrorists seem to be immune from censor or condemnation. No wonder; their food supply is clandestinely provided by some of those who claim to be offering only humanitarian aid.

However, the Troika’s statement did end on a positive note that echoes the AU’s call for resumption of the inclusive national dialogue.

The 2015 elections were a triumph for the consolidation of democracy in the Sudan. There seems to be a consensus that the new government, when it is formed should continue the inclusive national dialogue as has already been promised before the elections were held in the country which is a relative oasis of stability in a turbulent area.

Media Office
London
21st April 2015