News / Africa

    Sudanese Head to Polls As Southern Independence Vote Looms

    Alan Boswell

    Sudanese head to the polls Sunday for what is the first democratic vote in in the country in over two decades. The vote is the final major milestone in a 2005 peace agreement before South Sudan votes on whether to form an independent state.

    Political candidates in Sudan have wrapped up their campaigns, and on Saturday South Sudan's capital laid relatively quiet just one day before the semi-autonomous region's first peacetime election in decades is to take place.

    South Sudanese president Salva Kiir told reporters on Friday that South Sudanese would vote for him to stay in power because his party of former rebels will keep the hard-won peace. "My message throughout my campaigns has been the maintenance of peace and stability throughout the country. Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the lives of our people have changed tremendously from worse to better and no amount of intimidations can drag us back to war again," he said.

    For his final rally, the Southern leader chose the burial site of his revered predecessor, the late John Garang, who founded and led the southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement until his shocking death just months after signing the peace deal.

    The key provision in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between Garang's rebels and Omar Hassan al-Bashir's government is a landmark referendum granting Southerners the right to politically separate from Sudan next year. These elections were inserted into the period before the secession vote, but with opposition boycotts and allegations of vote rigging in the north and no strong organized opposition in the south, both ruling parties look set to retain power for the final stages of the peace deal.

    Mr. Kiir said that a likely victory for Bashir, who was indicted last year on Darfur-related war crimes by the International Criminal Court, will have little effect on the peace process. "If he wins the elections, he is going to continue as the president of the Republic of Sudan, and the relations between the north and the south will remain the same, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement will continue to be implemented up to the end of the interim period where the people of Southern Sudan will have to go to the exercise of the referendum. So, nothing will change. It will be the same spirit that will continue to implement the agreement," he said.

    The lead-up to the polls has been chaotic, as the opposition announced, unannounced, and re-announced a dizzying array of boycotts. Two out of the handful of significant northern opposition parties are still participating in the polls, but most of the rest of boycotting the vote, including most of the South's SPLM candidates running in the north. But, adding to the electoral confusion, Mr. Kiir and other SPLM officials have refused to endorse the northern boycott, saying that it was decided without the consent of the party's top political organ, who only decided to pull out of the presidential race and the elections in Darfur.

    Analysts say that the apparent split is a sign that SPLM's south-based leadership has already started looking ahead to the prized referendum. Mr. Bashir had threatened the SPLM that if they refused the elections, he would refuse to hold the Southern independence vote.

    The two parties still have not agreed on a finalized border in the case of secession, nor on what is to happen to the revenue from oil produced in the south, where most of Sudan's oil lies.

    Two million died during the two-decade conflict between SPLM and Khartoum.

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora