News / Africa

Sudan Voter Education Campaign Draws Tightened Restrictions from State Authorities

Sudan Voter Education Campaign Draws Tightened Restrictions from State Authorities
Sudan Voter Education Campaign Draws Tightened Restrictions from State Authorities

Multimedia

Audio
  • Interview with ACJPS Executive Director Osman Hummaida

With one month to go before Sudan elects its president and parliament, various opposition and civil society groups have met mixed results in organizing voter education campaigns across the country in 2010.  They are urging a lifting of campaign restrictions imposed by Sudan’s National Election Commission (NEC) to limit political parties and citizens' rights to hold public rallies. 

Last week, three members of the group Girifna were arrested as police and state security quashed a peaceful protest at a bus stop in central Khartoum.  Executive director Osman Hummaida of the U.K.-based African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies says the arrests flout the 2005 interim constitution and bill of rights, and are one of several examples of the suppression by Sudanese authorities of efforts to oppose a regime which has ruled the country since 1989.

“It’s not just the arrests.  There are many other kinds of restriction activities taken by the authorities and by the NEC against the opposition.  One of these examples is when the national radio refused last week to air the speech by the presidency candidate Sadiq al-Mahdi, the former prime minister and the last elected prime minister.  The objection was that there were 19 points of a 20-minute speech (that were) unacceptable.  And when I looked at the 19 points as a fact – one of them is that President Bashir had been indicted by the International Criminal Court – they said they wouldn’t air that unless he censored his own speech, which is omitting 19 points out of 20 made.  Then he has to shut up, unless he says something along the line of the ruling party,” Hummaida objected.

Leading candidates in Sudan's first multiparty presidential election, from left, Yasir Arman, Omar al-Bashir and Sadiq al-Mahdi (file photos)
Leading candidates in Sudan's first multiparty presidential election, from left, Yasir Arman, Omar al-Bashir and Sadiq al-Mahdi (file photos)

Former Prime Minister al-Mahdi, who was ousted by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in a bloodless 1989 military coup, is contesting this year’s 11 April election as a candidate for the Umma party, which he founded in 1986.

Sudan’s opposition groups have complained that the National Election Commission is biased in favor of the Bashir government and is writing circulars and campaign regulations that favor the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in the vote.  Hummaida says that the crackdown on political activity severely limits the ability of civil society groups to engage the public to debate important issues and undercuts the holding of free and fair elections.

“I think that there is serious concern that there is unlikely to be a fair and free election in the month to come because obviously, none of the independent voices have been given the chance to express their will in the campaign,” he noted.

Sudan’s elections for president and the national assembly, the first vote in 14 years, have been postponed several times.  They had been scheduled for March and April of last year, but delays in a credible national census postponed the voting, first until February of 2010, and then, to this April. 

Southern Sudan leader Salva Kiir [R-front] and Sudan's 2nd Vice President Ali Osman Taha [L-front] attend the 14th Extra Ordinary Summit of the Inter-Governmental Authority Heads of State and Government at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in N
Southern Sudan leader Salva Kiir [R-front] and Sudan's 2nd Vice President Ali Osman Taha [L-front] attend the 14th Extra Ordinary Summit of the Inter-Governmental Authority Heads of State and Government at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in N

The vote will end five years of interim rule that spanned the 2005 conclusion of a 22-year-long civil war between the official government in the north and the semi-autonomous region of southern Sudan.  Next year, south Sudanese voters will hold an independence referendum under terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to determine whether they will form their own state and secede from the north.  Osman Hummaida says because they are aware of the importance of the 2011 vote, authorities in Khartoum are keeping a close eye on the perceptions of Sudanese voters regarding the conduct of this year’s election.

“I think the government will genuinely want to consider the general kind of thinking and will of its own people.  It implies definitely the government, (and the National Congress Party, actually,) is ready to accept that kind of reality, that is, now it is time to deliver, to allow the real, genuine will of the people,” he said.

Hummaida agrees that the need to clear the way the 2011 referendum for southern Sudan to take place under terms of 2005 CPA has been a guiding force for the Khartoum government to permit the 11-13 April general elections to be held next month as planned. 

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid