Home | News    Tuesday 9 February 2010

Two more candidates admitted into Sudan presidential race, Bashir’s challenge rejected

February 8, 2010 (KHARTOUM) –The Sudanese highest court today rules today that two nominees were wrongly excluded by the National elections Committee (NEC) allowing them to rejoin the race for president in the April elections.

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FILE - Sudanese officials show registration kits at the Elections High Committee compound in Khartoum November 1, 2009 (Reuters)

The two candidates are Munir Sheik Al-Deen from the New National Democratic Party and Fatima Abdel-Mahmood from the Socialist Democratic Union.

Last month the NEC rejected both figures citing non-compliance with signature and registration requirements outlined in the electoral law.

A candidate is required to collect 15,000 signatures in 18 of the 25 states in the country which opposition parties blast as unreasonable.

The electoral commission had rejected Abdel Mahmoud, saying she had not had her papers stamped by state committees, despite having previously told her this was not necessary.

Reuters said that a crowd of ululating women greeted Abdel-Mahmood, the only female candidate, shouting “God is greatest,” and “Fatima is Sudan’s next president”.

“This is a victory for Sudanese women that for the first time a woman will stand for the presidency of the republic,” Abdel-Mahmoud was quoted by Reuters.

When her candidacy was rejected, Abdel-Mahmoud said that this was a conspiracy against women.

The court also accepted an appeal by Munir Sheik Al-Deen, of the New National Democratic Party.

It said his party, and the Sudanese Democratic Socialist Union, had not been able to complete registration procedures for reasons beyond their control. The party’s representative in Southern Sudan Unity state had been arrested and his papers taken from him.

There are now 12 candidates running for president, including sitting President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur. Last week the appeals chamber asked the pre-trial panel to review the genocide charges against him.

Apart from Bashir, Abdel-Mahmood and Munir, the official presidential runners include Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi (Umma Party); Hatem Al-Sir (Democratic Unionist Party); Yasir Arman (Sudan People Liberation Movement); Abdullah Deng Nhial (Popular Congress Party); Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud (Sudanese Communist Party); Mubarak Al-Fadil (Umma Reform and Renewal Party); Abdel-Aziz Khalid (Sudan Alliance Forces); Kamil Al-Tayib Idriss (Independent); Ahmed Goha (Independent).

In April 2010, Sudan is scheduled to hold its first democratic elections in 24 years. General elections are required by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, which ended the civil conflict between northern and southern Sudan that lasted two decades, killed 2 million people, and displaced 4 million more.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is hoping to legitimize its rule after coming to power through a coup in 1989 particularly in light of the arrest warrant hanging against Bashir which has restricted the latter’s foreign travels and meeting with world officials as well.

Many of Sudan’s opposition parties have decided to field candidates for the first round to split the vote in order to prevent Bashir from gaining the more than 50 percent of votes needed to win. This would force a second round between the two leading candidates and the opposition would then support any candidate against Bashir.

Yesterday the Umma Reform and Renewal Party (URRP) leader Mubarak Al-Fadil said that Bashir will not be able to win from the first round and will lose in the second round against a unified candidate from the opposition.

Al-Fadil added that Bashir does not have a popular base or political support and is relying on a “divided totalitarian party”. He warned that the NCP may resort to rigging the elections to avert this scenario.

However, the NCP political office Ibrahim Ghandour dismissed Al-Fadil remarks saying that the opposition presidential candidates will get no more than 35% of the votes with Bashir winning 65%-75%.

Ghandour added that a survey conducted last year showed that Bashir will receive 96% of the votes.

Today, the court rejected a challenge made by Sudanese professor last month against Bashir’s eligibility to run for president but did not say why.

Opposition parties have complained of fraud, vote buying and intimidation by the NCP during last year’s voter registration. The NCP denies any fraud.

Journalist Hayat Humaida, who is running for parliament as an independent in Northern state, complained to police after she, her husband and her uncle all received threatening text messages warning her to withdraw.

“They were threatening me and my family and asking me how much money I wanted to withdraw," she told Reuters.

She did not know who was responsible.

Three other candidates are standing in her constituency, she said. Mohamed Khaled Hassan from the opposition Umma Party, Mohamed Ashara from the opposition Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Bashir’s powerful presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie from the NCP.