The Sudanese Have Spoken: Less than 15% Turn Out for Rigged Elections
New Political Realities on the Sudanese Landscape
The Sudanese dictator, General al-Bashir, abandoned the National Dialogue and stole the elections, contrary to all promises he made to the Sudanese people and to the regional and the international communities that he would not re-elect himself again after ruling Sudan for 26 years that witnessed genocide, gross human rights violations, division of the country, harboring terrorism from New York to Boko Haram, and displacing internally and externally between 6-8 million Sudanese civilians by the statistics of the United Nations. Despite the African Union resolutions, that include 456, and the UN Security Council resolutions, that include 2046, the German Initiative, and the appeal of the European Union, the Troika, Canada and other countries for General Bashir to convene a national dialogue before any elections, General Bashir used his engagement on the national dialogue to buy time while giving a signal that he is heading towards the national dialogue but using it as a cover to convene one-party system elections to extend his rule for another 5 years in order to rule Sudan for 31 years and maybe beyond. He designed his own self-styled electoral law away from the political forces and appointed his own electoral commission – a corrupt commission at his service. When he started the campaign for voter registration for the elections, the opposition collectively conducted a big campaign against voter registration. The Sudanese people stood by the side of the opposition for different political and economic reasons. Less than 5% turned out for voter registration, forcing the electoral commission to adopt the 2010 voter registration, which included the populations of the Republic of South Sudan in the biggest scandal that they cannot cover, only telling the public that they are updating the 2010 voter registration. By the time the election campaign started, the major opposition parties and civil society groups, non-armed and armed, were united under the banner of the Sudan Call, and together they waged a great boycott campaign that, despite the difficulties of harassment by the regime, mobilized the Sudanese people inside and outside and in the urban and rural areas of Sudan. This came also at the same time as the biggest dry season campaign in the past four years by the Sudan government, targeting the Two Areas and Darfur. The government was defeated and the Nuba Mountains witnessed a major strategic defeat by the SPLM/A-N, who put an end to the biggest campaign of General Bashir against the civilian populations. General Bashir is still re-grouping to continue his war with his new rigged mandate. During the election, General Bashir intensified aerial bombardment against civilian populations in Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and Darfur, having an air force capacity to operate during the night as well as the daytime, which inflicted heavy casualties on the civilian populations including targeting his own prisoners of war in the custody of the SPLM-N that resulted, on April 16, 2015, in a massacre against them while the SPLM-N was trying to release them to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The SPLM-N is demanding an international investigation as well as an investigation into atrocities committed against civilians from all sides. As the elections are ending now, the Sudanese elections during the last 26 years are the only elections that do not need anyone to wait for the results. The results are known and guaranteed that General Bashir is extending his rule for 5 years and the National Congress will continue to rule as a one-party system plus some necessary arrangements with the National Congress satellite political parties.
New Political Realities
1. Despite the harassment by the regime, deception and intimidation and the control of the system and the media and the propaganda by the regime and its group of interests, the turn out for the election is less than 15%. This is a solid reality that needs to be registered and recognized.
2. The opposition campaign of the Sudan Call mainly and other opposition forces has achieved a great victory by having the Sudanese people on their side speaking out clearly that Sudan needs and deserves a change and the forces of change are there.
3. In a historical decision, the African Union Technical Committee, assessing the preparations for the Sudanese elections, recommended that these elections did not meet the African and international requirements. Despite this recommendation, the African Union, in a scandalous act, sent an observation team, who have seen and witnessed the great boycott by the Sudanese people, and they have admitted it.
4. The Sudanese opposition established a clear fact that the people are on their side, they do represent an alternative, and the game is over for General Bashir and his party. Greater unification of the opposition, as it did in the Sudan Call, will be the correct way forward to constitute a solid alternative to dictatorship, genocide, corruption and bad systems and to put Sudan on a new road that will end the war and bring peace, democratic transformation and regional stability by putting an end to regional and international interference by the current government.
5. It has been established beyond doubt that General Bashir’s system is a naked dictatorship as of now without popular support, and the massive majority, who decided not to turnout for elections, will soon decide to turnout against the regime. They are a solid base to effect transformation and to achieve peace.
6. The Sudanese people understand clearly that the only way out of economic misery and to address economic hardship is through ending wars and corruption through democratic transformation especially since more than 70% of the budget is being used for war and security and less than 2% is being used for health and education.
7. The failure of the dry season offensive is having a negative impact on the government.
8. New forms of peaceful resistance are emerging as in the case in Hamadab, Lagawa, Greif, Halfaya, etc. which is directly linked to the demands of people’s daily lives, that are issues of land, services, etc.
9. Business as usual will not work for the regime, the opposition and the regional and international communities. Sudan needs a new approach.
10. General Bashir miscalculated after he decided to join Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen together with the international Muslim Brotherhood as a tactical move to address his economic and political difficulties with the Gulf States. He started to undermine the AUHIP and the African Union as he is taking political cover, trying to use his involvement in Operation Decisive Storm as a cover to undermine the role of the AUHIP and the African Union in their engagement in Sudan. That is why he failed to show up for the pre-dialogue meeting in Addis Ababa. That should not be allowed by both the Arabs and the Africans as they are both suffering from General Bashir’s involvement in de-stabilizing the region from Libya to Yemen to Central Africa.
The Way Forward
The status quo is untenable. Two scenarios are on the table. The first scenario is a decisive uprising with its chances growing every day, especially with the turnout of less than 15% in the elections, is a vote of no confidence in the regime and it is, indeed, a vote for change. This scenario will be enhanced by the restructuring of the Sudan Call, having a convention for all the Sudanese opposition, opening up for more forces to join the Sudan Call and having a clear program for the day after. The second scenario is to establish a new approach for a peaceful settlement that will end the ability of General Bashir’s dictatorship to buy time into the new 5 years of his mandated extension and to keep the status quo by engaging the opposition in non-stop negotiations, which are fruitless and only aim to achieve a piece-meal solution. The new approach must be clearly oriented to stopping the war and addressing the humanitarian crisis as an entry point and it must provide civilian protection by ending aerial bombardment and opening humanitarian access. Secondly, the approach would based on basic freedoms as a necessary requirement for any fruitful engagement. The two scenarios are inter-related and interlinked. The second scenario will never materialize unless the Sudan Call and the opposition in general are viable and credible and unless the uprising is knocking hard on the doors of the dictatorship in order for the dictator to have a clear choice between serious engagement or being overthrown by an uprising. The choice is clear for the Sudanese people. They should continue mobilizing and uniting their rank and file on the road of change and democratization. As we fully recognize the importance of the outside factors, the real answer is in the hands of those who decided to boycott the elections. The answer is inside Sudan. It has never been outside.
April 20, 2015