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Elections Battle Puts Sudan At Crossroads!

KHARTOUM, April 1st, (World Pulse) The Umma, Umma Reform and Renovation, Unionist Democratic and Communist parties are the four major opposing parties that have announced today their boycott of the multi-party presidency elections - the first elections held in 24 years. Withdrawn candidates are veteran leaders mentioned successively: Al Sadiq Al Mahdi, Mubarak Al Fadil, Hatim al - Sir and Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud. They have joined the SPLM’s candidate Yassir Arman in boycotting the voting. Yassir’s party withdrew him yesterday evening.

The Umma, Communist and Unionist Democratic parties are the major and traditional parties with majority voters. Their withdrawal opens the door to Al Bashir, sitting president, to a hollow victory but far from legitimizing his situation or opening the doors to the 111 state signatories of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to his official visits or sending away the specter warrant arrest issued last year by it - over genocide and war crimes committed against Darfur civilians during the war..

Democratic Unionist Party, Sudanese National Alliance, Popular Congress Party (PCP), and 5 independent candidates said would be participating in the voting due 11-13 April.

With the exception of the PCP which nominated a Muslim Southerner to run the presidential race, Bashir willn't have a seemingly competition. PCP founded by Al Turabi, guardian of the Islamic movement in Sudan, in 1999 after haggling and separation from Bashir’s party.

Opposition decision to pull candidates came after meeting in Khartoum to consider boycotting the polls. Hours earlier they held a meeting with Scott Gration, a US senior official Envoy who came to hold crisis talks in Khartoum after the withdrawal of main opposition candidate out of April's election. Gration suggested commitment to schedule time to save the election process.

The opposition cited overwhelming government control of the media and election monitoring committee as well as biased legislation that make a fair vote impossible and incredible. Having their protests ignored, they quit following the example of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, who preceded them and announced on Wednesday that its presidential candidate, Yasir Arman, wouldn’t continue the presidency competition April 11-13. Arman was key rival to the ruling National Congress Party (NCP)'s Candidate, Omer Al Bashir.

SPLM nominated Arman for the candidacy of the polls on January 14 this year. His withdrawal decision was reached in Juba, the Southern Sudan’s capital, during the party’s Political Bureau extraordinary meeting which took place yesterday.

Dr. Riek Machar vice-chairman of the SPLM who announced the decision from Khartoum, had given two reasons for desertion. “Because of the continuing conflict in Darfur region and elections irregularities, we decided that Yasir should end his campaign for the presidency of the Republic". The surprise decision angered the folks who see in Arman a key to "new Sudan" and "change".

Withdrawing Arman, has spared Bashir second round of elections and guaranteed him overwhelming winning and governing for the coming four years.

The government welcomed the SPLM’s decision which had ardently sought and accused the opposing boycotting parties as of being American agents.

Yassir, who is in his early fifties, is a Muslim Northerner and member of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s Political Bureau, and head of the SPLM parliamentary bloc at National Council. He is one of the youth who has spent more than 21 years involved in a 22-year civil war with the Sudanese government. His social background makes of him a key symbol to carry out the SPLM slogans of “Hope and change” and new Sudan. His electoral campaigns have shown people’s eagerness to a Sudan where ethnicities and diversity are taken into account and that they are treated accordingly. He spent more than 21 years fighting under the umbrella of the SPLM movement, which was founded in 1983. Arman is married to a southern lady and they have two daughters: one is 15-years-old and the other is 12-years-old.

Al Bashir who came to power two decades ago, following a pacific cout d’etat, governs Sudan with an iron fist and fire. He sees elections as a lifeline from the ICC and believes that this however will enable him to escape international isolation. He threatens everyone who asks for delaying or boycotting or raising the issue of fraud elections’ cards.

Worth mentioning is The Carter Centre, the only international long-term observer mission in Sudan and the International Crisis Group, were both in favor of the delay. The Carter Center commented that a short delay might be necessary to solve the logistics, including hundreds of thousands of missing names on the electoral register.

The opposition which described elections process undertaken in such circumstances as a “farce,” wants the poll postponed until November, citing a continued conflict in Darfur where emergency law is implemented and the seven-year clashes are still going on. They also complain about the wide spread of unresolved irregularities prior to and during voters’ registration.

On the other hand, western opposition factions were in favor of delay and has described insistence of going ahead with elections as a disaster for the country. Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (GEM), the largest armed group in Darfur, said yesterday to Al Jazeera Qatar-based channel that a large number of voters will be deprived of taking part in the poll.

"These elections are based mainly on false senses, especially in Darfur. Masses of populations ... will be excluded from the elections," he said adding that "Especially the nomads - they can not participate in these elections. So we are calling for the delaying of this and we want to accelerate the peace process first."
Arman asserted in televised speech aired two days ago these claims and added that authority regulations forbade displaced people from camps around Nyala, in western Sudan, from attending his campaign or the speech he gave during his visit to the region.

Escalation of the Sudanese electoral crisis dates back to last week when the Juba Coalition(opposition) requested Salva Kiir SPLM chairman and partner in the coalition government since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), in Naivasha, Kenya in 2005, to raise to the government a request of elections postponement to next November of this year. The Sudanese presidency rejected the offer and threatened to postpone the referendum, which due in January 2011.

The referendum has become a matter of bargaining. Al Bashir threatened two days ago to use the referendum card if the Liberation People’s Movement joined the opposition parties in their call for the delay or boycotting of the elections. For the SPLM this issue is a red line that is considered one of its biggest achievement to have its independent state in case unity wasn't made "attractive" as CPA says.

Prior to that, Sudanese opposition parties asked for a delay because of allegations over biases by the National Election Committee (NEC) to the NCP ruling party and, “Asked in vain, for reforms to be undertaken in a number of laws primarily relating to national security and media”. Instead they have been accused of being satellites to the West.

It's worth mentioning that Sudan is the biggest country in Africa where more than five hundred local languages are used in communication besides Arabic and English. Instability threatens unity of the country as well as social texture.

Southern Sudan area is 597 000 km². Population – Total (2005) – Density 11 million est. 8500000, as well as natural richness in pasture, 8 months of rainfall as well as minerals. It shares borders with 5 African countries.

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jap21's picture

Hi Halima

Your writing is so clear, so to the point and full of valuable information. People who live in faraway places like myself, especially those with professions not dealing with geography, very rarely get to read such a vivid image of what is going on in a country like Sudan.

When I was working in the deep Bolivian Chaco helping guarani women make sense of their natural wealth so that they could overcome poverty, I was sure that someday them and I would have to opportunity to work together again in making their voices be heard. I remember telling them: "We need to make the world get to know you, because no one can love what they don´t know. Once the world gets to know you, it will be impossible for them to stop loving you. People get to love you, when they get to know you".

And I just proved myself right, because through your eyes I got to know your culture, your loving Sudan, and now I love it too. I feel somehow connected with the suffering of your people. I feel their hard work towards liberty and I sense their struggle to become a great nation.

Thank you for giving all of us the opportunity to get to know you.

Hugs,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Hi Jackie,

Thank you so much for passing and commenting on my article. Nice to see you online again. Hope that you have fully recovered.

Let's call Jackie on God to guide us in the right way and save Sudan from the evils of division , tribal clashes and war, and that our children live in love and harmony in a unified, stable, developing country led by loving, understanding government, representing all sudanese.

May God bless us all. preserve us all. I need him to hear me and grant peace of mind.

Love,

Halima

jap21's picture

He listens, always

The first step towards solving problems is making them visible in a non violent way. This lucid way of writing about things that are so heavy, exemplifies how news should be spread about war conflicts. This is the way to make this visible for the world to see.

No nation ever has found peace that lasts through violence. Women all over the world, and especially Sudanese women, are called upon to speak up, to let their leaders know they will not accept their violent methods anymore: they must state clearly that they are not going to "cope" with their violence, they will just not allow it.

It is not an easy path to be non violent. It doesn´t at all mean that you will sit in a corner quietly. It means you will state clearly that violence is not an option anymore; that to be violent you need two people, the one who harms and the one harmed. And women will not be the ones harmed anymore. Take their power to harm women away from them and there will be a change in their attitude for sure.

The world needs to know Sudanese women. They need to know they are advocating to non violence, without political affialiation. Only fighting for their rights to be real, not just papers.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Halima Mohamed Abdel rahman's picture

Need your spirit!

Dearest Jackie,

I wish I had your spirit, morale and insight! The world seems very small and that I have to look, go and come back throughout a needle hole.
Got me? It is very possible that violence may erupt at any moment. I always keep thinking of my family there. Where will they go? Will my siblings, sister nieces, nephews and relative be safe? I like so much your words and recipe for happiness. But am living worst moments; my country is at crossroads and it is quite possible that after only six months won't be Sudan. I 'M MOURNING MY BELOVED COUNTRY.

Thank you so much for your efforts to raise my morale and help me look inside my soul and try to find a hidden or forgotten moment of joy and light laughter.

Lots of love,

Halima

jap21's picture

I know the feeling

Communists are well know by the violence they generate all over the world. They usually keep the power through "democracies" that more resemble the shadow of violence and hypocrisy than the real wish to promote unity and peace in their territories.

The problem is how do populations face these chaotic interventions when forced to choose between being with them or against them, if it is their survival what is on the table, if it is their homes and children who will suffer if they dare to defer from the ideas of the communist monsters.

It is not easy at all. The only "glue" that will keep your country together is the will of peaceful women and brave men that are willing to follow that lead. Only women are the ones with enough morale to ask for peace and get it. They need to acknowledge that. Women in your country have more power than they can see. Your writing will let them know how powerful they really are, when they work together to beat the beast of violence.

Keep writing, keep working, keep praying. I will also pray for your people, and I ask women who read this, no matter what their political thinking might be, to pray for Sudanese women to begin their quest and win the non violent country for their families without having to mourn any more deaths.

Sudanese women are lucky to have you, you are opening the world's eyes to understand the way violence has been fostered in your land. Corageous Sudanese women will take the lead. God will allow them to.

Hugs,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

JaniceW's picture

So sad to read

Halima,
Thank you for informing us of the background behind the decisions made to boycott the elections. The news being fed through the mainstream media does not touch on many of the points you made and I so appreciate you providing a full picture of the situation through your eyes.

The peace process there already seems so fragile that I wonder what the impact of the boycott will be. Do you have a sense of that? And do you have a sense that the government will listen to the opposition candidate's complaints and review the election process? Based on similar accusations on irregularities in other countries, I am skeptical of such an outcome. But without inclusiveness and open competition, there is little hope for a fair and credible election process.

I hope that the outcome is to the benefit of all Sudanese people and look forward to more updates from you on this. Best wishes,
Janice

Halima Mohamed Abdel rahman's picture

Be back soon

Hi Janice,

thank you for passing and commenting. As answer to your valuable comment, am preparing an update on the current crisis in Sudan, my boss asking for some work I have to finish this first and upload my answer later.
Be back soon.

Halima

Halima Mohamed Abdel rahman's picture

Chaos...chaos!

Hi Janice,
Here am back. Let me mention from the very beginning that I am in favor of unity. The idea of having my beloved country divided, traumatizes me and keeps me awake at night.

Sudanese society like any other tribal or nomadic society-except the South- has clashes over pasture and grazing. But since the adherence of the Al Bashir to power in 1989 much water has run below the bridge.

Population tribal and ethnic structure and distribution of natural resources make Sudan, as such as beads that must be threaded and held together carefully. If one scattered the rest follow.
Any ruler who doesn’t take into account such specific characteristics is an idiot and will be loser. Unfortunately this is the case in my homeland.

in such circumstances It is common that clashes frequently erupt. Southern part has the lion share of tensions and civil wars. The last war’s (1983-2005) causalities were huge because the war has taken religious aspect and people were forced under the religious cover to forcibly take part. It had claimed 2 million and 4 million were displaced. They fled to neighboring countries or trekked to the national capital, Khartoum. Because of lack basic needs of life and educational institutions and opportunities to develop themselves, humanitarian organizations called children “lost generation”.
I do remember America has taken some of the children and provided education and helped in building their future.

Let’s move on to the recent developments. To help audience understand the current crisis, let me give some hints to the history of the SPLM and the Comprehensive Peace agreement CPA.
The SPLM which led a 22-year war since 1983, composed of unionists and separatists. The latter were the majority. But founder of the movement late Dr. John Garang weighed for unity and he called his movement: Sudanese People Liberation Movement (SPLM). His death put the CPA at crossroads and the country lost a unique national leader and reformer.

War between the Christian and animist South and Muslim North, erupted first in 1953 and continued almost throughout all successive regimes. It was always described as “civil war” except during Bashir regime religion was employed for the first time and Jihad or holy war replaced holy war. though Causalities on both side were great, south has the lion share. Besides lives Damage to the poor infrastructure was great.
The National Congress Party (NCP), ruling party and Sudan's people liberation Movement (SPLM) reached in 2005 in Naivasha, keya, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which put an end to a 22-year war between the South and the North.Sudanese Northern Opposition Parties weren’t involved in the negotiations prior to the signing of the CPA.

The CPA beside giving Southerners an autonomous government and the second position in the national government, it was the first to grant southerners the right of self-determination, which was denied since 1947, the Juba Conference which convened with the intention to put rules of future relations between the two rivals. The CPA included self determination protocol called Machakos Protocol. This protocol granted Southerners the right to opt for separation themselves. after six decades of waiting and fighting they had access to autonomy. The protocol stipulated that the referendum should be conducted by a democratically elected government and that shouldn’t exceed 2011.

For Southerner separatist, electing Al Bashir guarantees an autonomous state. Any delay or boycotting brings them to Square one and deprives them yesterday's dreams
.
Worth mentioning that, from the eleven presidential candidates, president Al Bashir is the only who expressed commitment to the Machakos referendum.
.
The last escalation caused by the Juba Alliance Opposition Alliance Parties who wanted voting to be delayed for six months to settle fraud and irregularities and biasness. They asked SPLM Chairman and vice preident, Salva kiir Mayardit, to raise their request to the Presidency who ignored it then postponed then rejected.

But before that last year Bashir sent , when speaking at a ceremony marking the fifth year the signing of the CPA, he sent message to the Southerners telling that he would respect their decision if they opt for separation and that his party would be the first to welcome such a decision. Another Announcement followed the SPLM intention to run the national polls. Those messages were well received by The SPLMs members and casted their shadow later on the nomination of Arman who had been supported by marginalized-majority in Sudan- and the liberal elite of both North and South.

Bashir hasn't accept Arman's rivalry. Arman has an unique character. He is from the same tribe as President Al Bashir and he is married into a very influential Southern family. This backgrounds plus astounding simplicity and charisma are appealing to voters who joined his media campaign especially from Darfur His. Arman's Growing Popularity angered Bashir who threatened to postpone self determination after the SPLM has joined the Northern Opposition Prties in asking the presidency for delaying poll. Arman was the key rival to Al Bashir and his popularity has grown very fast in spite all obstacles put by authorities before him.
The ball was in SPLM's court to the rule the Sudan once in life and fulfill the dream of their late leader of giving access to marginalized to decision-making and power. They kicked it off.

Analysts believed that was the main reason behind the SPLM’s surprise decision to pull out its candidate without taking into account its impact on allies and voters. Because The decision was taken Wednesday after Bashir threatened to deferring the first multi-party polls in 24 years. Opposition parties accused the SPLM and the NCP of making a deal.
SPLM denies a deal but admitted a few minutes ago to Al Aarbiya Arab TV Satellite Dubai-based that AL Bashir phones them every day asking for pulling their candidate and that they refuses. “How can we legitimize someone while he is still shooting our brothers every day in Darfur”?

Arman and his ex-rebelling group justifications are not convincing especially when they link it to Darfur.
"I took the decision to withdraw for two reasons, said Arman:" Firstly, after having campaigned in Darfur, I realized that it was impossible to hold elections there due to the current state of emergency," Arman told said early Thursday. "Secondly, there are irregularities in the electoral process which is rigged."
But which better to legally and democratically take power or leave the Darufris in such inhumane conditions for more coming four years? We don’t know what tomorrow brings. But Arman seemed confident promising to continue fighting despite cessation. He accused President Al Bashir of being a burden for Sudan and for his own party. "He's been leading Sudan for over 20 years. That's enough," he said, stressing that his fight would continue despite his pullout from the race, Arman declared: "President Bashir is a burden for Sudan and for his own party. He's been leading Sudan for over 20 years. That's enough."

US Special Envoy Scott Gration, arrived to Sudan yesterday with one mission; having election on time regardless of opposition complaints.

Opposition parties aren’t ready and havent’ decided yet to fully boycott or partial participate in the upcoming elections. This confusion may be justified by the 20 years of absence of their grassroots and the. Since last Thursday the situation is in a mess and chaos.

With the exception of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) which announced withdrawing the national race, opposition is still in chaos. For example Umma and Unionist Party, have pulled out of presidential race and decided to run legislative and executive voting. None made a final decision. Polls take place in six days and The opposition Umma Party said that unless the government met eight key demands by 6 april , including a delay to the vote it would boycott all parts of the presidential and legislative elections. It is expected that the party join other major opposition groups who have withdrawn candidates from the national presidency race ‘in protest against the vote they say is "rigged" in favour of Omar al-Bashir, the incumbent president” AlJazeera aired.

The situation seems to slide into civil war again. accusations are exchanged between the governemtn, opposition and SPLM. t is impossible to predict what is going to happen next hour and get ready. Voters' votes are already stolen as well as their dreams of democracy” whispers the public.

Al Bashir energetically going ahead on his campaign tours followed by the three Satellites (one official and two hired) and his two wives.

Deputy head of the country's election commission said yesterday the Sudan elections will be held as scheduled this month."The National Elections Commission (NEC) is working to have the elections on the dates we specified on April 11, 12, 13," Abdallah Ahmed Abdallah of the NEC told reporters on Saturday, NEC deputy head said to AlJazeera.

The announcement came hours after the Umma Party led by former prime minster Sadiq Al Mahdi gave the government an ultimatum announced that it would not participate in the upcoming vote unless the government agreed to his 8 conditions for participating included a four-week delay to help in the establishment of new body to supervise the NEC and guaranteeing a kind of integrity as well as freezing of "oppressive national security laws", fair access to media as well as limits on campaign expenditure.

Umma Party is expected to cancel participation in legislative elections in protest of the ongoing process.
Worth noting Umma Party was winner of the last multi-party elections in 1986 before was toppled in a coup d'etat led Omar Al Bashir president.

Halima Mohamed Abdel rahman's picture

Accusations

Mubarak al-Fadil presidential opposing candidate of the Umma Party - Reform and Renewal accused the Government of Unity of making a deal. He told the Dubai based Al-Arabiya TV late yesterday that President Bashir had warned his vice president and chairman of the Southern Government to withdraw Yassir Arman from the presidency race. His security Counselor Salah Gosh told that the government in turn would re compensate by solving pending issues such as the separation of the south, and demarcation of borders on new basis.

Al Fadil added that Bashir's messenger had threatened Salva Kiir that if the president did not win in the first round there will be no second round because the government would lead a military coup.

Yen Matthew Scholl" SPLM's spokesman has denied in an interview with Al Arabiya the existence of such deal. But he has pointed out that Sudanese President regularly calls Salva Kiir every day asking for Arman's withdrawal from the presidential race but Kiir refused.

Field Marshal Gosh former National Security & Intelligence Services Director is one of the most influential leaders in the NCP's government. Last year after the the ICC had issued an arrest warrant he warned any one who might attempt to arrest Bashir of harsh punishment:“Anyone who attempts to put his hands to execute [ICC] plans we will cut his hands, head and parts because it is a non-negotiable issue” he said. He also warned foreign organizations of not violating their mandate. “have no one blame to blame but themselves” before pledging to protect them..

jap21's picture

Women are the key to solve this

I have witnessed violent turmoils in my country that seemed to be hopeless, and they were, until women showed up in the scene. When women went out in the streets with white handkerchiefs, asking for peace to come back. When they got together in the churches and marched peacefully asking the governments to give up the violence, then peace returned but it was frail. Violent men kept rioting.

When women saw they were not being heard, they began hunger strikes in every church. When the movement was spread into every church of every city, the government could not kill them all anymore. The government then, gave up violence. New elections were called and the violent government lost.

Women are powerful. They need to recognize their power, which lies in unity against violence.

Hugs,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

Halima Mohamed Abdel rahman's picture

Hate the word new

Dearest Jackie,

Thank you so much for supporting me and trying to raise my morale. I wish I was as strong as Bolivian women. To be away from your country and family in such circumstances, is something I hope none of my friends experience, especial when dark scenarios are expected and part of your country has already been separated. Imagine just within six months' time there will be two Sudans or northern Sudan and Southern Sudan! New PASSPORTS, CURRENCY, FLAG, TERRITORY. I HATE THE WORD "NEW"

Lots of love and hugs,

Halima

Mr Arman SPLM's candidate for the presidential elections due April 11-13 was not forced to step down, he voluntarily asked to quit the race...more details later.

Deputy Chairperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Dr. Riek Machar revealed yesterday that Yassir Arman, the withdrawn Presidential race, who was nominated by the party in February to contest against the sitting President Al Bashir, had asked to be exempted.

“He [Arman] advocated for his withdrawal. We had tried to convince him for weeks not to do that, but he insisted that he wanted it done that way,” Machar said, to Sudan Tribune electronic newspaper.

Arman announcement on canceling presidential contest quoted by international and local media as that the presidential election was done with the purpose of deflecting the International Criminal Court (ICC). "The presidential election is made for one person, it is not made for a democratic process or for the Sudanese people, it was only made to save General Bashir from the ICC," Arman said.

The ICC issued last year an arrest warrant for Omar Hassan Al Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

SPLM, Salva Kiir rejected a memo submitted by the SPLM' North Sector Members demanding boycotting elections at all levels in the north and freezing campaigns for 13 candidates contesting for governors in the Northern States.
Dr. Machar, SPLM's Vice President has told media today that Chairman of the Southern Government (Salva Kiir) has ordered all candidates to continue the electoral contest at all legislative and executive levels.

Yet no new information whether boycotting 13 candidates have resumed campaigns or still abstaining. They claim they are boycotting because of fraud in the electoral process and failure to ensure fairness and impartiality.

On the other hand, dozens of supporters of Arman protested yesterday out side the SPLM' Headquarters in Khartoum carrying SPLM's flags and chanting slogans in favor of him. They had demanded him withdraw his decision of boycotting and resume national contest again.

Protesters accused the National Elections Commission of violating election law as well as biasness.

Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) has decided this evening to boycott national elections on all levels, where as Umm and Unionist Democratic parties decided to run the race at all levels.. More details tomorrow.

Carter Center threatens to withdraw from Sudan elections unless Bashir apologizes officially and publicly. Al-Arabiya TV quoted an unidentified source that the US-based Center has threatened Sudanese government to cease monitoring supervising elecitons unless President Omar Hassan Al Bashir appologizes. This request comes after the president has warned foreigners from interfering in Sudan's internal affairs and threatened twice this year to mutilate or expel any foreign observers who call for postponing presidency race.

The Carter Center is a non-governmental organization founded in the 1980s by by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter with the aims of furthering democracy and human rights.

On the other hand, the Sudanese People Movement Liberation (SPLM) boycotted elections in the North on all levels.

"After reviewing the situation ... we the SPLM for the northern sector have arrived at the conclusion to boycott elections in the 13 northern states of Sudan," excluding the sensitive states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, Pagan Amum, the secretary general, said after a meeting of the SPLM political bureau.

Pagan added that they would continue participating in the elections in southern Sudan, Nuba mountains (in south Kordofan), and Blue Nile, "and we are sure the SPLM will win those areas," he said.

SPLM started withdrawing national race last week when announced its presidential candidate Arman.

Umma Party hasn't yet made its final decision whether to participate or not. Umma is waiting for one of its its condition of postponing elections to be considered.Its final decision is expect to be announced this evening whereas Sudan's national elections commission repeatedly announces that vote will go ahead as planned on April 11-13 amid growing calls from opposition groups, especially young members, for boycotting.

There will be "no delay, Preparations are finished," Hadi Mohammed, head of the technical committee of the National Elections Commission, told yesterday reporters after talks with US special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration.

Reporters said a group of people gathered outside the National Elections Commission (NEC) demainding for "free and fair" elections.

Gration, after meeting with members of the NEC stated that the elections would be as "free and fair as possible" and would start on time.

Opposition claimed that it had highlighted Gration on irregularities as well as submitted written document, but he insisted on having elections on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this month. Umma party, Umma reform and renewal party, and the communist party had accused the electoral commission of bias and said the ruling National Congress Party would tamper with ballots.

President Al-Bashir NEC Candidate said that the opposition decided to withdraw because they were afraid to lose the elections. He added yesterday when addressing a rally that When they(opposition) realized that the NCP was going to win, they decided to say that there is fraud .

The US State Department on Monday urged Sudan to lift control on political parties and stated it would accept a short delay in the landmark elections if it helped meet concerns.

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