The former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM)
says logistical problems and environmental condition would render this year's
general elections impossible to undertake. The SPLM says it is contemplating calling a
meeting with Sudan President Hassan Al Bashir's National Congress Party to
arrange a possible change in the election date. Some political analysts say
this year's democratic elections, the first in 23 years, was a vital element of
the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which is believed to have helped end
more than two decades of conflict between north and south. The analysts also
said that any significant delay could potentially undermine the peace agreement
and plunge the country into crisis.
Hikmat is the project director for the Horn of Africa of the International
Crisis group. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the Sudanese capital,
Khartoum that conditions on the ground would make it impossible to hold an
election on the initial date agreed upon by both parties.
"As an observer to the
development in Sudan regarding the possibility of running the election in mid
2009, I think there are two important points, and the first point is the
logistical concern and the second point is related to the environment and the
conditions for a fair election. According to the two parties, they just
recently agreed on the electoral law after a very long debate and discussion
and agreement and disagreements," Hikmat noted.
He said the 2005
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) stipulates the date for general elections.
"According to the
constitution and according to the CPA, within 30 days after the electoral law
is passed by the parliament and signed by the presidency, then the National
Electoral Commission should be established. And the National Electoral
Commission is mandated by the constitution to start to hold elections from A to
Z according to the law," he said.
Hikmat said there was need
to be pragmatic about Sudan's general elections.
"I think the driving
argument for the decision is going to be the practicality of it, I don't think
it is going to be feasible for any of the parties to push their own interest or
to push their own point because logistically there is a constraint. The second
point is the environment there and by the environment I'm talking about the
democratic environment that there is a fair election in Sudan. At the moment there
are a couple of issues that needs to be addressed very seriously, and it forms
part of the implementation of the CPA, the reform of the police law and the
security law and the media law and all those sorts of things, where the other
democratic parties would also have their share in the media and so on and so
forth," Hikmat pointed out.
He said the Comprehensive
Peace Agreement gives room for maneuver if conditions are not conducive for a
"Actually the CPA allows
that option to say that given the situation and the conditions are not in favor
of starting the elections. The two parties have the right to delay the election
by one-year maximum… so you can go into the fourth year, but even after that
also they could also then decide when that happens, but that is part of the
implementation of the CPA. It is not working outside of the CPA, but according
to the CPA," he said.