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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid