Africa Sudan elections

Sudan elections

Supporters of former prime minister (1986-1989) and now head of the National Umma Party (NUP), religious leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, rally in Khalifa Square in Sudan’s twin capital of Omdurman
Supporters of former prime minister (1986-1989) and now head of the National Umma Party (NUP), religious leader Sadiq al-Mahdi, rally in Khalifa Square in Sudan’s twin capital of Omdurman

(AA) – Millions of Sudanese voters are expected to cast ballots next week to elect a president and members of parliament and state legislative assemblies.

The following is all you need to know about the electoral process.

  • Sudan has more than 13.6 million registered voters who will cast ballots at nearly 7,000 polling centers nationwide.
  • The number of registered voters has increased by some 600,000 since the last election in 2010.
  • Voting will begin on April 13 and continue to April 15. Polling stations will be open from 8am to 6pm.
  • Vote counting will start on April 16. Final results are expected to be announced on April 27.
  • Losers will have two weeks from the announcement of results to lodge their grievances with the election commission.
  • The African Union and the Arab League have both pledged to send observers to monitor the elections.
  • The election commission has announced that 7,000 local observers will participate in poll monitoring.
  • Forty-five mostly small and fringe parties will contest the elections at all three levels.
  • Most of Sudan’s popular opposition parties – including the National Umma Party (NUP) of former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, the Popular Congress Party of Hassan al-Turabi, and the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) – are boycotting the polls.

Presidency

  • Sixteen candidates, including incumbent President Omar al-Bashir and a female candidate, will vie for top office.
  • Six of the contenders represent political parties, while the remaining ten will run as independents.
  • The winner of the presidential race must clinch more than 50 percent of all votes cast. If no candidate is able to win 50 percent +1, the two frontrunners will face off in a runoff vote.
  • It is widely believed that al-Bashir will win the race for the presidency.

Parliament

  • Voters will elect 310 members of the national parliament and 540 members of state legislative assemblies.
  • A total of 1,072 candidates will vie for seats in the national parliament, while 2,235 will run for state legislative assembly seats.
  • Sudan’s 2008 electoral law, which was amended in 2014, allocates 25 percent of the seats in the national parliament and state assemblies for women.

Challenges

  • The election faces several challenges, including a boycott by major opposition parties. Last February, political parties launched a boycott campaign – dubbed “leave” – to protest Bashir’s reelection bid.
  • Sudan’s civil society coalition, which includes more than 50 civil society organizations, has also joined the boycott campaign.
  • Boycott campaigners have called on the government to postpone the elections and ensure an “inclusive atmosphere” for holding the polls.
  • International observers, including some from the European Union and the U.S.-based Carter Center, will not participate in the poll monitoring.
  • Rebel groups under the umbrella of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), which includes four rebel groups, have vowed to disrupt the polls. The rebels recently claimed to have seized polling materials in South Kordofan, but the election commission denied the assertion.
  • Nevertheless, the commission decided to postpone the vote in seven constituencies of South Kordofan.
  • The Interior Ministry, which has warned it would not tolerate any attempt to disrupt the elections, has deployed 75,000 policemen to safeguard the electoral process.
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