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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid