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Yasir Arman, a key challenger to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has withdrawn from the race
Yasir Arman, a key challenger to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has withdrawn from the race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

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

'Exceptionally Lucky' US Boy Survives Flight in Wheel Well

The boy was unconscious for most of the flight, and appeared to be unharmed after enduring the extremely cold temperatures and lack of oxygen More

US Anti-Corruption Law Snags Major Tech Company

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in December, 1977 More

Cameron Criticized for Calling UK 'Christian Country'

Letter from scientists, academics and writers says the prime minister is fostering division by repeatedly referring to England as a 'Christian country' 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid