Sudan Voter Registration Ends with Rally and Arrests
Today is the last day for voter registration in Sudan’s first multi-party presidential and legislative elections in 24 years to be held in April 2010. Opposition parties called for a rally on Sunday in the country’s capital, Khartoum. The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) issued a statement banning the political rally by opposition groups including the Major Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). According to a Reuters report in yesterday’s The New York Times, opposition parties”had called for demonstrations outside parliament on Monday to demand a raft of democratic reforms in a rare challenge to the president.” Up to 20 opposition parties participated in the rally, which culminated in the arrest of more than 70 people including senior opposition government officials. “The SPLM and opposition groups are calling on Khartoum to clear a backlog of legislation they say is essential for elections and the roll-out of a faltering peace deal,” continues the Reuters article.
Al Jazeera reports that confirm that Pagan Amum, SPLM’s Secretary General, Yassir Arman, Deputy Secretary General of SPLM in the north, and Abbas Gummas, state minister in the coalition government, were arrested during the rally and later released.
In reaction the the arrests, protesters in the Southern towns of Wau and Rumbek set fire to the NCP offices in those towns. A statement issued by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, emphasized the “central importance of political rights and freedoms, especially in the lead-up to elections and referendum.”
Voter registration is now closed and results will eventually be made public to uncertain reaction.
- Sudan Arrests SPLM SG Pagan Amum and Yasir Arman (Sudan Tribune)
- Sudanese Government Cracks Down on Opposition (Enough Project)
- UN Envoy Calls On Parties to Abide by Peace Pact in Wake of Political Violence (UN News Service)
- Sudanese Regime Crackdown Requires International Crackdown on Sudanese Regime (The Huffington Post)