Bashir wins Sudan election. Now what?
Sudan announced today that President Omar al-Bashir won the April 11-15 Sudan election that Critics call a sham. Supporters say it gives the longtime military ruler new legitimacy.
Johannesburg, South Africa
President Omar al-Bashir has won the first democratic Sudan election in 24 years, closing a chapter on his 22 years as the country’s military ruler and potentially opening the way to new legitimacy as a democratically elected leader.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Mr. Bashir won 68 percent of the vote, Sudan’s National Election Commission announced on Monday.
His closest competition was Yasir Arman, a member of the southern-based Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, who withdrew from the race in the final week over concerns about fraud, but still garnered 21 percent of the vote.
Foreign and local observers noted serious irregularities in the polling, including the buying of votes and the intimidation of opponents, but the elections held from April 11-15 were largely free of violence.
Still, the most crucial moments in the nation’s stability lie ahead, with political reconciliation in the war-torn Darfur region and the possible division of oil resources if the South votes to secede in a 2011 referendum.
“The focus now should be for Sudanese political forces to find a way of achieving political stability,” says Fouad Hikmat, a Sudan expert at the International Crisis Group, based in Nairobi. “The issues this government will face are going to be the same as those faced by the previous government. If Bashir can push for an agenda of peace in Darfur, rather than an agenda of military defeat of the armed groups, if he can bring an element of stability in the border regions of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile state, and if he can implement the full Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the south, then there is a chance for peace.”
Today’s results brought few surprises.
President Bashir ran with the full backing of state-owned media, and full support of Sudan’s powerful armed forces, and with very little competition, after the withdrawal of Mr. Arman and other key opposition candidates.
Mr. Kiir, who serves as vice president in a powersharing agreement with Bashir, was also widely favored to win in the south, where the SPLM once served as an armed liberation movement in a 20-year civil war with Khartoum.
Yet many African leaders welcomed the results nonetheless, since they signaled a formal end to the power struggle between north and south, which led to the civil war that claimed more than 1 million lives from 1983 until 2005, when a comprehensive peace agreement was signed.