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Yasir Arman, a key challenger to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has withdrawn from the race
Yasir Arman, a key challenger to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has withdrawn from the race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

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs