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Sudan's Ruling Party Invites Opposition into Government

Sudan's ruling party says it will invite opposition groups to join the government if it wins the ongoing elections.

Senior National Congress Party official Ghazi Salaheddin spoke to reporters Wednesday, a day before voting ends across Sudan.

He said if the ruling party is declared the winner, it would invite all parties, including those that did not participate in the polls, to join the government. Salaheddin said parties that do not join risk isolating themselves.

Reuters news agency quotes Yasir Arman, a leader of southern Sudan's main party, as saying the offer is proof that the NCP knows the election results in advance.

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement is one of several parties that is either fully or partially boycotting the elections. The parties have accused the NCP and President Omar al-Bashir of planning to rig the outcome.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose organization is monitoring the vote, told VOA he is reserving judgment on the elections' credibility until after the votes are counted.

In an interview with VOA, Carter said he thinks opposition parties should not have boycotted the elections, but should have allowed international observers to decide whether the voting had been overcome by fraud.

The former U.S. president also responded to criticism from northern Sudanese opposition parties that the U.S. is supporting flawed polls to maintain momentum for a planned referendum on independence for the south. He said these national elections are integral to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan's north-south civil war. And he said the U.S. should not simply walk away from them.

Election observers in Sudan say this week's voting has been mostly peaceful but remains plagued by logistical problems, especially in the south.

Voting had been due to end Tuesday, but Sudan's national elections commission extended it until Thursday.

Sudanese voters are casting ballots for president, parliament, and many state and local races. The elections commission says vote counting will begin on Friday, and that results will be announced on April 20.

These are Sudan's first multi-party elections since 1986. Mr. Bashir has ruled Sudan since seizing power in a 1989 coup. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.