Enough Co-founder John Prendergast explores the many challenges facing the 2010 Sudan election season.
Sudan’s national elections scheduled for April 2010 will be neither free nor fair absent significant international pressure on the ruling National Congress Party, or NCP, to dramatically change the electoral landscape. The crackdown by the NCP on December 7 and 14 2009, involving the arrests of senior opposition politicians and the use of tear-gas on protestors, is yet another demonstration that the basic requirements of credible elections, including freedom of expression and assembly, have yet to be met. Despite recent progress over key components of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, little has been done to change the electoral environment, and many of the national-level reforms included in the CPA have been ignored by the NCP with little outcry from the international community.
In the wake of this crackdown, and in the face of what the Obama administration calls “ongoing genocide,” the United States has yet to impose genuine consequences on NCP officials and others who are obstructing peace in Sudan. If nothing changes before April, U.S. taxpayers will have spent nearly $100 million to support the election of an indicted war-criminal and legitimize the iron-fisted rule of one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.
The current efforts of the United States and the broader international community to end the atrocities in Darfur and prevent all-out war in Sudan are failing. Despite clear signs that the CPA is in jeopardy and continued atrocities against civilians in Darfur and southern Sudan, the Obama administration has yet to impose consequences on those behind the violence.
- No consequences for commission or orchestration of crimes against humanity.
- No consequences for the brutalization of political opposition and silencing of independent voices.
- No consequences for the failure to establish conditions for a free and fair national election.
- No consequences for the non-implementation of existing agreements, including the CPA.
A stolen election would be the beginning of the CPA’s end, as the NCP would almost certainly exploit what it would quickly claim was newfound “democratic legitimacy” to prevent southern Sudanese from holding the self-determination referendum scheduled for 2011. If that happens, it would be fanciful to think that anything short of full-scale national war would result. In this context, it is time to alter course in bold and specific ways in order to avert what could be the deadliest conflagration in Sudan’s war-torn post-colonial history.
The deputy police commissioner of Duk Padiet, left, and a police describe an attack on their village. (Photo / Maggie Fick)
- Fuel violence and divisions, particularly in the South and Darfur;
- Undermine the CPA’s aim of democratically transforming the country;
- Disenfranchise millions of Darfuris;
- Provide false legitimacy to an indicted war criminal, Omer al-Bashir, and to his ruling NCP;
- Badly discredit international electoral assistance programs;
- Reinforce to the NCP that it can ignore key provisions of the CPA such as national political reforms; and,
- Waste nearly a hundred million dollars of American taxpayers’ money.