Monday, October 05, 2009

Sudan: Wanted for war crimes, Bashir nominated as candidate for 2010 Vote

The National Congress Party (NCP) of Sudan has nominated embattled President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to be its candidate in the scheduled April 2010 general election.

The election forms part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the over two decade civil war between the North and South.

Over the weekend, the NCP reiterated its commitment towards the implementation of the CPA, claiming it will ensure Sudan's unity.

But the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan government has threatened to boycott the vote if the NCP fails to fully implement the agreement.

Fouad Hikmat of the International Crisis Group (ICG) said that the NCP wants changes in its organization.

"The convention of the National Congress Party is coming at a very critical stage that Sudan is passing through and it is only six months before the election," Hikmat said.

He said the NCP convention followed a recent opposition meeting.

"It is coming after a significant conference run by the opposition party which was (convened) by the SPLM (Sudan People's Liberation Movement) in south Sudan in Juba," he said.

Hikmat said there are indications the NCP is trying to create a different party look.

"At this stage, the National Congress Party, there have been debates within the party and they want somehow to separate the party from the state institutions," Hikmat said.

The NCP's Shura or the Consultative Council over the weekend nominated President al-Bashir as chairman for the new session as well as the party's candidate for the coming elections.

But Hikmat said the new NCP leadership policy means the presidential candidate could not necessarily be the chairman of the party.

"As far as the nominations for the elections, it means that the president of the NCP does not automatically become the nominee for the presidency of Sudan," Hikmat said.

He described Bashir's nomination as problematic.

"His nomination will not affect the implementation of the CPA in principle. However, there is a very serious problem because he (Bashir) is being indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the president of Sudan, as the president of the National Congress Party, (and) as the chief of the Sudan Arm Forces," he said.

Hikmat said the Sudan opposition would be adversely affected if President Bashir wins the election while he is indicted by the ICC.

"If he wins, it means that the new government of Sudan still will be led by somebody who is wanted by the International Criminal Court. And I don't know how far will the other political parties, specifically the Sudan People's Liberation Movement will accept that," Hikmat said.

He said the recent opposition meeting in the Southern Sudanese capital of Juba resolved to boycott next year's election if the NCP refuses to ensure free and fair election.

Published with the permission of Voice of America
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