News / Africa

South Sudan's Ruling Party Pulls Out of Presidential Race

Yasir Arman, a key challenger to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has withdrawn from the race
Yasir Arman, a key challenger to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has withdrawn from the race

South Sudan's ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement has pulled out of the race for the Sudanese presidency, as well as from elections in Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur. The announcement came after days of indecision from within SPLM's leadership about how best to respond to allegations of vote rigging on the part of its tenuous peace partners in the north.

Late Wednesday evening, vice-chair of the SPLM Riek Machar announced that the former southern rebels were dropping out of the race against Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, whom they accuse of engineering election fraud. The party will also not participate in Darfur elections, saying the crisis there has yet to be resolved.

The South's ruling party had previously slotted Yasir Arman, a secular northern Muslim, to challenge Bashir in national polls scheduled to begin April 11. Bashir's NCP is not running anyone against SPLM chairman Salva Kiir to retain the presidency of the semi-autonomous South, and SPLM officials say NCP sought SPLM to similarly not contest President Bashir's seat.

The two parties are joint governing partners under a 2005 North-South peace deal that ended a two-decade civil war between the mostly Arabized north and black African south, but tensions had been rising as national elections pitted the two peace parties against each other.

In recent days, SPLM has been forced to mediate between northern opposition parties, who claim that the election is already rigged and demand it be postponed until November, and Bashir's NCP, who have rejected claims of rigging and say elections will go on time.

Deputy Secretary General of the SPLM, Anne Itto, explaining Arman's withdrawal, said Thursday that the NCP had refused to listen to any of the opposition complaints.

"Our team did not just have discussions with the [opposition] political parties. They also went and engaged NCP, hoping that NCP would see the importance of creating an environment that is conducive for other political parties to participate. We did not reach any agreement with them," she said.. "They did not want to consider any of the issues raised."

In response to the NCP's hardline stance, the northern opposition forces were to decide Thursday whether to participate in the upcoming elections, or boycott them. The SPLM secretary general, Pagan Amum, had told the media that his party would join with the opposition parties if they decided to boycott the northern vote.

But SPLM's leadership seemed divided. President Bashir had openly threatened the former rebels that if they did not support the April elections, he would refuse them a prized independence referendum for the South scheduled for January.

When asked Wednesday morning on his way to an emergency political meeting in Juba if it was true SPLM would join in a northern boycott of the elections, the party vice-chair Riek Machar said that the SPLM leadership was still deliberating on its course of action. "No decision has been made towards that. It's unlikely, also, that there is a concerted effort to boycott," he said.

Some analysts, as well as members of the northern opposition, suspect the surprise announcement late Wednesday from Machar came on the heels of a secret deal between the two ruling parties.

A number of outstanding issues must be resolved between SPLM and the NCP in the lead-up to the referendum. Despite its rhetoric for "democratic transformation" in Sudan, few think that SPLM's leadership would take any steps that might threaten its long-sought independence vote.

But some say the actions and words of SPLM's leadership this week suggested a party seeking any middle ground, tightly squeezed between backing a clearly-flawed presidential vote on the one hand, and damaging peace relations by fully joining hands with its ruling partner's opposition on the other.

The two-decade war between the North and South ended in a 2005 peace deal, which stipulated a 6-year interim during which elections would be held, to be followed by the Southern secession referendum. An estimated two million people died during the conflict.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid