News agencies are reporting that southern Sudan’s ruling party, the SPLM, will boycott Sunday’s election in the North. Citing a statement delivered by SPLM secretary general Pagan Amum at a press conference today in the southern capital of Juba, Reuters reported that the party would refuse to participate in protest over widespread irregularities.
"We announce the SPLM boycott of all the elections in the North on all levels … in 13 states of the North," Amum said, noting that the SPLM would still compete in the northern states of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan and throughout the South. The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South gave Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states – located on the contested North-South border – the right to have their newly elected state legislatures consult with local constituencies in this transitional area to determine whether their needs are being met, as Sudan moves toward a likely split after the South’s self-determination referendum next year.
The announcement comes close on the heels of the SPLM’s decision to withdraw its presidential candidate Yasir Arman, a move quickly followed by the announcement that other opposition groups would boycott the elections as the presidential level.
A reaction from the Bashir camp, responses from other opposition groups, and further remarks from the SPLM may shed light on what this move means for next week’s already hotly contested election. Stay tuned.