The highest political arm of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), the politburo has chosen the chairman of the group, Salva Kiir, to be its presidential candidate ahead of Sudan's general elections next year. The group says that there was need to resolve the ongoing crisis in Darfur before the next elections to enable places like the remote western region to participate in the vote. Salva Kiir is currently Sudan's vice president after a 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ended more than two decades of civil war between the north and the south in which scores of lives were lost.
Some of his critics accuse him of not spending enough time in the capital Khartoum, which they claim, could undermine Kiir's presidential ambitions. Yasser Arman is the deputy general secretary of the SPLM. From Khartoum he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Kiir is a tried and tested leader who would take Sudan to new heights as president.
"We just finished a meeting of the political bureau, the highest organ of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, and we decided to contest at all levels including the presidency. And for sure Salva Kiir, the chairperson of the SPLM is going to contest the elections next year," Arman pointed out.
He said Vice President Kiir stands a great prospect of winning next year's general elections.
"He has a very high chance emanating from the fact that the SPLM is very popular, we have a vision. And that if you are talking about the unity of Sudan and the entire unity on an even basis then it is Salva Kiir who is coming from Southern Sudan to be the president of Sudan so as to keep the unity of the country. I'm sure the voters would have a lot of incentives to vote for Salva Kiir because of the SPLM or the policies of the SPLM, the alternative that the SPLM is providing, and that is why the SPLM is very popular. And that if you want to keep the unity of Sudan, then you have to vote for the man who has the vision and coming from South Sudan, which is going to go for a referendum," he said.
Arman said the chairman of the SPLM knows about the challenges facing the people of Sudan and is the best to address those challenges when he is elected as president next year.
"Well, the challenges are clear and are evident in Sudan and because of those challenges we need a leader who has the vision who is tested. And you need a new vision that can keep Sudan together because the old vision could not keep Sudan together. Sudan has been at war with itself for seven years and there is a war now in Darfur, and Salva Kiir can play an instrumental role to put a just end to the war in Darfur. And this actually is our concern right now is to fix things correctly and fairly in Darfur and to go to the national elections together with Darfur," Arman noted.
He said Kiir is a well-tested leader who can reconcile the whole country and bring about peace and stability.
"Definitely, you know the SPLM vision of the new Sudan, is a vision that calls to all Sudanese regardless of being Southern Sudanese or Northern Sudanese, Christian or Moslem, Arabs or African, you have to be in the first place a Sudanese. This is the SPLM vision of the new Sudan and it is a vision of tolerance and of bringing peoples together. Salva Kiir is being armed with this vision and the SPLM has struggled for the last 25 years to bring Sudan together. He (Kiir) is the right person to bring Sudan together, and he is coming from South Sudan, and this would make a historical reconciliation between the south and the north," he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Arman said the SPLM had drawn up a plan to end the Darfur crisis and deal with a warrant being sough by the International Criminal Court against the country's president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, but would make no details public until it had met Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP).