What’s Going on in Sudan?

Confusing and depressing news from Sudan, where the main opposition parties have withdrawn their candidates for this month’s presidential election, following the SPLM’s decision to withdraw last night.

There is no doubt the elections will not be free and fair. The International Crisis Group report earlier this week made clear that the rigging had already been done. So maybe the opposition is boycotting the ballot to draw attention to the flawed process.

However, where Sudanese politics is concerned you can be sure that few actors are making decisions based on principle. The real reasons remain shrouded in mystery. Anyone who tells you they know what is going on is a fool.

So I’ll speculate: For my money, there is something pretty shabby going on.

  • The NCP of President Bashir needs to win the presidential elections. A resounding victory is the best way of heading off the International Criminal Court and cementing Bashir’s shaky legitimacy.
  • The SPLM doesn’t want the presidency of a united Sudan. It wants the referendum next January and secession.

This way both sides get way they want – while the Sudanese people wonder what sort of democracy it is that leaves them with bit parts in the political process.

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