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Yasir Arman, a key challenger to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has withdrawn from the race
Yasir Arman, a key challenger to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has withdrawn from the race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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs