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Sudan Tribune

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Arman’s Withdrawal from Sudan’s elections and popular uprising scenario

April 14, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — A few days ago the newspaper Ajrass Al-Huriaa published an article by the well-known journalist Al Haj Warrq. Under the heading “Real leaders will not turn into pimps”, Warrq wrote that the withdrawal of Yasir Arman from the presidential race is “a message against surrender to farcical legitimization”.

Sudanese in a public bus pass under a billboard for former candidate who boycotted the elections,Yasir Arman,
Sudanese in a public bus pass under a billboard for former candidate who boycotted the elections,Yasir Arman,
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in a meeting held on March 31, in Juba announced the withdrawal of Yasir Arman from the presidential race citing irregularities and violence in Darfur.

The surprising pullout of the key challenger against President Bashir was received of anger and disappointment as many saw in him a glimmer of hope to end the 20 year rule of Omer Al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court since March 2009.

Warraq attempted in his article published on April 6 to explain Arman’s idea of how the “rigged” presidential election is meant mainly to legitimize NCP candidate Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and so enable him to confront the international war crimes court.

According to Warraq, who is a close friend of the SPLM candidate and a leading member in his election team, the campaign should be used to mobilize and organize the Sudanese people. However, some people naively think that this is a chance to overthrow Al-Bashir’s regime following the announcement of “fraudulent” elections. Strategic thinking, however, and good analysis indicate that this uprising will not take place now, because southern Sudan is waiting for the referendum. “For some democrats it might have been more appropriate to use the campaign to mobilize and organize (the street) and then to ignite the uprising at the announcement of the (fraudulent elections), but that’s what had concerned Arman,” he wrote.

On Sunday the National Press Council’s lead attorney charged Warrag under the Sudanese Penal Code with “waging war against the state,” in connection with this article. The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services have lodged a complaint against the editor of Ajras Al-Hurriya and Warraq under article 66 of the Penal Code, crimes against the state, and articles 24 and 26 from the Media and Publications Act.

The idea of “Orange Uprising” after the election has been largely and openly debated in Khartoum. Many say the Sudanese street should overthrow Bashir regime through peaceful popular uprising as it had been the case against the former two military regimes of Aboud in 1964 and Neimeriy in 1985.

However this revolutionary vision shared by the two men, who were former members of the Sudanese communist party, contrasts with the ambitions of the leading southern nationalist figures in Juba. A large number of these southern Sudan government figures believe that Al-Bashir’s re-election is the best way to ensure their desired outcome in the referendum on self-determination next January. They trust Al-Bashir’s pledge to respect the southern Sudan’s will, if citizens of the semi-autonomous region vote in favour of independence.

Warraq has argued strongly against such naivety, “There are some elements among southern nationalist (separatists) that are in a waiting mode. Some of them also accept US special envoy Scott Gration’s naïve analysis, based on trusting NCP’s propaganda, that the NCP also want separation in January 2011. As if the NCP is a velvet party ready and willing to accept a velvet separation as has happened in Checkoslovakia.” He further explained that such a group is not only motivated by illusions but also by “their interests”, guarding and defending the current status quo – with its privileges from oil revenue and corruption linked to the centre in Khartoum. However, they are not unique in that, explained Warraq, as the patronage system in the centre has a network of corruption inside all political forces and elites in Sudan, including the marginalized elites. The patronage relationship is also one of the causes of the latest confusion among political parties towards the elections, noted Warraq.

He goes on to say, “If Al-Bashir is really concerned about the Sudanese people and the country, he will realize that he is not suitable as its President. Instead of dragging the country through a sham political election he should have resigned and lead the efforts for a national consensus and selected an alternative president with the blessing of all political parties. The government could then adopt a national program to engage the whole country in a campaign to face the reality of self-determination. However, Al-Bashir is not looking for the country’s salvation, he is only looking after his own personal safety.” This selfish quest is also motivated, says Warraq, by a belief that the way forward is to “Let their blood be spilled, let all blood be spilled and look forward to building religious glory in the graveyards”. In his opinion Bashir is leading the country on a suicide mission and he has no program to unite the country.

Warraq insists that southern nationalist will not wake up from their current delusion that there will be a “peaceful separation” until after January 2011, when it will be too late. Only then will they realize that Al-Bashir, who doesn’t tolerate basic freedoms of expression, will not be able to tolerate the right for self-determination and, as many believe, the NCP could unilaterally postpone or cancel the referendum.

Warraq says that the objective conditions for an uprising could be reunited when there is a link between the struggle for democratic governance and the struggle for self-determination in the south. “Only then will the struggle for self-determination and the struggle for democracy in general be brought together. If there is an uprising in Sudan, January 2011 will be the right time, but not now after a sham election”, he argues.

During his electoral campaign and before to decide the withdrawal of his party from the general elections, Sadiq Al-Mahdi the leader of the Umma party voiced his opposition to this idea of popular uprising saying the existence of armed groups all over the country should push Sudanese to seek other options than this one.

Following the boycott of the electoral process, the former prime minister stressed in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV on the need to organize the street and to unify the divided political forces starting by his party in order to get ready for next elections, to be held after the referendum, if southerners decide to create their own state.

(ST)