A Sudanese opposition leader said his and other major political parties are boycotting the April presidential and parliamentary elections because President Omar al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party controls everything in the country.
Hassan Osman Rizig, deputy president of the opposition Reform Now Movement party, said that under such circumstances the elections will not be free and fair.
This comes after President Bashir’s party launched its campaign Tuesday.
Sudan information minister Ahmed Bilal said if the opposition believes in democracy, then it must take part in the elections.
Rizig countered taht there is no freedom in Sudan, especially with so many opposition leaders in prison.
“We are not going to participate in this election because these elections are not fair and are not free. They are not recognized by all the internal opposition and they are not recognized also by the international community,” he said.
Rizig also cited the ruling party's near total control over Sudan, including the country's security forces, army and economy.
“They are ruling in the central government; they are controlling the state government and they are in charge of the money, and they are also ruling the armed forces and police forces. It’s difficult to compete with the ruling party in such election,” Rizig said.
He dismissed information minister Bilal’s argument that the best way for the opposition effect change is to contest elections, and said President Bashir has consistently ignored opposition advice how to bring about a democratic Sudan.
“We signed two important documents – one is the roadmap for national dialogue and the other is the Addis Agreement. In these papers we agreed that the elections must be negotiated and agreed upon by all parties in Sudan. After that it must be the national dialogue,” Rizig said.
He also said the opposition cannot take part in any election when some opposition leaders remain behind bars for signing an agreement last December with Sudan rebels to unify their opposition to President Bashir.
“We ask for the release of all political detainees. There must be no single political detainee in prison," he said.
Rizig welcomed the easing of some U.S. sanctions on Sudan by President Barack Obama, and said the U.S. must lift all sanctions that tend to hurt the Sudanese people.
“These sanctions are put on the Sudanese people and are not smart sanctions put on the government of Sudan. The Sudanese people are suffering mainly from some sanctions imposed by the United States. We hope also they will lift the other sanctions which can harm the Sudanese people and not the government of Sudan,” Rizig said.