Sudan’s Incumbent Runs Away with 94% of Vote in ‘Joke’ Election

(AFP) Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was elected to another five years in office, results showed April 27, despite international war crimes charges and a vote marred by low turnout and an opposition boycott.

Bashir, 71, took more than 94 percent of the vote in the election held earlier this month, the electoral commission said, prompting the opposition to reject the result as a “joke”.

National Electoral Commission chief Mokhtar al-Asam announced Bashir’s victory to a Khartoum news conference to cries of “Allahu akbar!” (God is greatest) from the long-serving president’s supporters.

Only little-known candidates had run against Bashir and his closest competitor — Fadl el-Sayed Shuiab of the small Federal Truth Party — took just 1.43 percent of the vote.

Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party also dominated results in simultaneous parliamentary elections, taking 323 of 426 seats.

The elections took place over four days from April 13, with voting extended by a day after turnout appeared minimal. Asam said the official participation rate was more than 46 percent.

Western governments criticised the elections, which were held amid deepening economic woes and conflicts in the Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, where the UN says more than 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million displaced.

Norway, the United States and Britain slammed Sudan for its “failure to create a free, fair and conducive elections environment” while the European Union said the vote could not produce a “credible” result because of Bashir’s failure to engage the opposition in national dialogue talks he promised last year.

Bashir dismissed his critics, saying they were “colonialist parties” and that their complaints would have no effect on the polls.

The mainstream opposition and rebel groups — which urged voters to stay away from polling stations — rejected the vote from the beginning.

“Nobody recognised the election, it is a one-party, one-person election process, and of course we have been saying so all along,” said Arnu Lodi, a spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North.

The SPLA-N launched an insurgency against Bashir’s government in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas in 2011, complaining of economic and political marginalisation.

“The SPLA-N doesn’t recognise the elections, let alone the results,” he told AFP by telephone. “It’s a joke and I don’t think anybody can believe that figure.”        His group, along with rebels in Darfur who have been fighting Khartoum’s forces since 2003, had vowed to disrupt the ballots across their region.

During the four-day vote, a handful of polling stations in the troubled areas were attacked and ballots stolen.

Bashir has promised to launch the national dialogue with the opposition after the election, and rebels from Darfur and South Kordofan were due to participate.

But fighting still rages in the regions, and the election results came the day after rebels and the Sudanese military said there had been major clashes in South Darfur state, with both claiming to have inflicted heavy losses on the other side.

Career soldier Bashir took power in an Islamist-backed takeover in 1989, the last in a series of coups that marked Sudan after its independence from joint British and Egyptian rule in 1956.

He has since overseen the country’s split with South Sudan after a 22-year civil war.

Bashir promised on the campaign trail that his next term would be one of “security and political and economic stability for Sudan”.

He made few concrete policy promises but vowed to boost development of Sudan’s struggling economy, which for years has suffered from international isolation.

The United States imposed a trade embargo in 1997 over alleged rights abuses and sanctions over Khartoum’s sheltering of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for five years in the early 1990s.

More than three quarters of the country’s oil reserves were also lost with South Sudan’s split.


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