Ex-rebels say Sudan regime deployed army in tense region

Khartoum–The southern former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement on Monday accused Khartoum of sending extra forces to tense north-south border areas and of rigging elections there.

“The information we have is that there is a build up” in Blue Nile state, said Yasser Arman, the SPLM’s presidential candidate who boycotted the country’s first multi-party election since 1986 that ended last Thursday.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) “is sending forces… military forces. We are cautious,” Arman told reporters in Khartoum.

The Sudanese army was not immediately available for comment.

Some 16 million registered voters across Sudan were asked to choose their president, legislative and local representatives. Southerners also voted for the leader of their semi-autonomous government.

The vote is likely to see Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir re-elected, but the legislative and local races are fiercely competitive in parts of the country.

Arman accused Bashir of preparing to rig the result of the election for the post of governor in Blue Nile state and in key constituencies in neighboring South Kordofan state.

“This is a red line,” he said referring to violations under the terms of a north-south peace agreement signed in 2005 to end Africa’s longest running civil war.

Election results are particularly sensitive in Blue Nile state, where the former southern rebels hope to maintain control of the governor’s position, currently held by Malik Aggar.

The National Election Commission has yet to announce results for the state, but some newspapers in Khartoum reported the NCP candidate had won.

“If (the election) is rigged, the SPLM leadership will have to meet and assess the situation to determine what type of step to take,” said Arman.

The electoral authorities said on Monday that results from the landmark polls, originally expected on Tuesday, would be delayed.

“We cannot set a definite date to announce the results because (the counting) is a very complicated process,” the head of the commission’s technical committee, Hadi Mohammed Ahmed, told AFP.

On Saturday, international observers from the European Union and from the Carter Centre said the elections had failed to reach international standards, citing logistical problems but also instances of intimidation and harassment.

Earlier on Monday, the United States, Britain and Norway urged Sudan’s National Election Commission to tackle “effectively and impartially” any disputes.

“We strongly encourage the NEC to address in good faith any legitimate disputes effectively and impartially,” it said.

The observers’ criticism had encouraged the opposition, who had accused Bashir’s NCP of rigging the election.

“We reject the results of the election which are far from being free and fair,” Osman al-Mirghani, head of the heavyweight Democratic Unionist Party, said, accusing the electoral commission of bias.

“The electoral commission is not neutral,” he said.

Related Articles

Back to top button