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El-Fasher University students protest against Darfur referendum

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April 11, 2016 (EL-FASHER) - El-Fasher University students Monday took the street to protest against the administrative referendum which started in Darfur five states on the same day.

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In this picture released by activistes university students hold banners with ’’No to the Referendum’’ march in El-Fasher streets on 11 April 2016

Opposition activists in the university told Sudan Tribune that they are against this vote because the needed conditions - peace and security- for this process are not yet met.

The students further pointed to the lack of freedoms to express their position on the future administrative system or other political issues, adding they noticed that students members of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) are authorized to use the university building to organize their campaign in favour the referendum.

A leading student activist at the University of El Fasher said that the university administration allowed the NCP students to hold meetings inside the university while it has been closed since three days.

"We took the street also to condemn this behaviour also," he said

Sudanese opposition parties and the armed groups call to boycott the referendum. The former rebel groups support the plebiscite, saying it is part of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

However, the National Liberation and Justice Party of Tijani al-Sissi calls to vote for the establishment of one regional authority, while the other groups: Liberation and Justice Party of Bahr Abu Garda and Justice and Equality Movement -Dabajo support the current administrative system. The same for the factions that joined the government after 2006 peace agreement and the ruling NCP.

A university official reached by Sudan Tribune to comment on the demonstration, denied that the student were protesting against the referendum.

"They are protesting against tuition fees and the retention of maintenance grants," he said.

The students said the police dispersed the demonstration and arrested ten protesters inside the university barracks.

ENOUGH CONDEMNS

The U.S. based Enough Project issued Monday a statement denouncing the vote over the permanent administrative status of Darfur region, saying it is ill-timed and lacks credibility.

"The Darfur referendum is another smokescreen being deployed by the Khartoum regime to divert attention from the continuing deadly conflict there and the regime’s efforts to undermine local Darfurian leadership," said John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project.

"This ill-timed referendum lacks credibility and will not reflect the will of Darfuri people, as millions of Darfurians are ineligible to vote under its rules,’’ said. John Hursh, Policy Analyst at the Enough Project.

Hursh pointed that holding this process while the conflict is not yet resolved and civilians continue to flee war "will only exacerbate already difficult conditions for the people of Darfur and lead to further conflict.”

(ST)

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