Northern and Southern Sudan
Northern and Southern Sudan

A top official of the International Crisis Group says escalating conflict in Sudan could seriously undermine the upcoming general election scheduled to be held from April 11-13.

Fouad Hikmat said the international community press President Umar Hassan al-Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to ensure a credible election as well as safeguard the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

“At the moment, the political arena in Sudan is getting very complex, fragile, and mainly characterized by a deadlock, or let’s say a political impasse,” he said.

“At the moment the political forces in Sudan do not have a very clear option where they could rally behind it a sort of a national agenda, [that is], to stabilize the country and to move forward in terms of democratic transformation and peaceful exchange of power,” said Hikmat.            

 A rebel group accused the national army of attacking its positions days after President Bashir’s government signed a cease-fire with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels.

The national army denied attacking rebel positions in the Jabel Marra region of Darfur, which is reportedly under government control.  But the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) rebel group maintains it was attacked in three different areas.

Hikmat said the ruling NCP party is making certain not to lose the upcoming vote.

“Very clearly, with the elections coming, the National Congress Party does not want to lose power,” he said.  “And this means that they are going to do that by excluding the others, while the SPLM’s agenda of democratic transformation is lacking behind.”

Observers have expressed worry the conflicts in Darfur as well as ethnic violence in the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan could affect the upcoming general elections.

Hikmat said there is need for the international community to act boldly ahead of the vote.

“The international community needs to converge in a sort of strategy in a framework where they all work in a coherent manner. And there needs to be international leadership to put the pressure on the two parties on a very specific agenda for stability in Sudan,” Hikmat said.