Tags: critics | foreign | election | stability

Foreign Critics of Sudan Election Fuel Instability

Tuesday, 20 Apr 2010 10:32 AM

KHARTOUM — Criticism of Sudan's multi-party elections by foreign observers including former US president Jimmy Carter has encouraged the opposition, but also damages the credibility of the former rebels ruling the south, where an independence referendum is due next year.

While struggling to coordinate their strategies, some opposition parties still took part in the election even if they shared the view of those who boycotted it that the vote had been rigged by President Omar al-Beshir's ruling National Congress Party.

Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi denounced the polls as fraudulent and said his Popular Congress Party, which did participate despite serious doubts surrounding their credibility, would not join the next government.

"The voting and the counting process are fraudulent," said the one-time mentor to Beshir, now one of his fiercest critics.

"We will take the matter to court and if the judge does not rule in our favour, we may have to use other alternatives than the ballot boxes."

But Beshir's powerful aide Nafie Ali Nafie downplayed criticism of the elections and dismissed any rejection of the outcome.

"(The observers) didn't say that the whole election didn't meet international standards. They said some aspects of it didn't, and that is a big difference," he told reporters.

On Thursday he had said that the opposition would not recognise the results.

"They will take to the streets to try to change the regime... through conflicts, riots," Nafie said.

"They give the example of Zimbabwe and Kenya (where violent protests led to political change) as if they expect to convince public opinion that this is possible," he added.

Mubarak al-Fadil, a prominent opposition voice, said those who opposed the regime should prepare themselves.

"The opposition is talking about organising political rallies and demonstrations, although not right now," he told reporters in Khartoum.

One Sudan analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that if demonstrations were held now, the opposition was more likely to bring about change within the regime than removing it.

While international observers said the election process in the north was flawed, they also pointed a critical finger at the SPLM ruling the semi-autonomous region of south Sudan, where a referendum on independence is scheduled for January 2011.

"They were more irregularities in south Sudan," chief EU election monitor Veronique de Keyser said on Saturday, emphasising the "weakness" of the election's organisation in a vast region with only the most basic infrastructure.

"The elections in the south experienced a high incidence of intimidation and the threat or use of force," the Carter Centre, also observing the elections, said, while noting the importance of learning from the "irregularities" to avoid repeating them in the referendum on southern independence.

Zach Vertin, south Sudan expert with the International Crisis Group, agreed that lessons should be learnt from the election in order to improve the referendum process from an organisational point of view.

But the SPLM's former presidential candidate Yasser Arman, who pulled out of the race, denied the election's failings had any bearing on the planned referendum.

"There is no link between the election and the referendum," he told AFP.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved

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KHARTOUM — Criticism of Sudan's multi-party elections by foreign observers including former US president Jimmy Carter has encouraged the opposition, but also damages the credibility of the former rebels ruling the south, where an independence referendum is due next year.
critics,foreign,election,stability
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2010-32-20
Tuesday, 20 Apr 2010 10:32 AM
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