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Bashir's candidacy for presidency stirs concerns in Sudan

Updated: 2014-10-23 03:32

Bashir's candidacy for presidency stirs concerns in Sudan

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir attends the closing ceremony of the 25th Arab Summit in Kuwait City, in thsi March 26, 2014 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

KHARTOUM - Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has backed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in the upcoming April 2015 presidential race, but the move has raised concerns among observers who debate whether his nomination is a sign of unity or division within the ruling party.

The party's nomination for al-Bashir as a presidential candidate has been of little surprise in Sudan, where President al- Bashir has ruled for over 25 years, but it has reflected the current political situation in the African country.

Al-Bashir was selected from five candidates, including Sudanese First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Salih, Presidential Assistant Ibrahim Ghandour, former First Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and former Presidential Assistant Nafie Ali Nafie. Al-Bashir was selected following a vote by the party's Shura (consultation) Council, where he attained 266 votes out of 396.

The ruling party has been keen on stressing its unity and organizing the strict selection of its members at all levels, using the re-election of al-Bashir for the chairmanship of the party and as the party candidate as a sign of unity.

"Regarding the selection of the president from five competitors, I see it affirms that the process was a democratic exercise and that the opinion of the majority dominated," Rabie Abdul-Atti, a leading NCP member, told Xinhua Wednesday.

Abdul-Atti stressed that the NCP party was formed through institutions and that the multi-candidate vote by Sudan's top political class proved that "the NCP is not a party with centers of power but a party that respects the institution."

But Abdul-Rahim al-Sunni, a Sudanese political analyst, said he believed that the multi-candidate vote indicated that there were divisions among NCP leaders.

"If we look at the primary nomination list, we will find that it included two leading figures, who were previously removed including the former First Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and former Presidential Assistant Nafie Ali Nafie," the analyst told Xinhua.

"This matter was not expected. It indicates differences within the ruling party where their nomination came by groups, which believe in a process of reform within the party," he added.

The first reaction to the nomination by the opposition came from Sudan's National Umma Party (NUP). They said the ruling party 's policies along with its insistence to hold the elections as scheduled next year will not help the politically divided country reach a national consensus.

"Sudan is facing a real crisis surrounding it from all parts. Resolving this crisis needs the Sudanese people to come together and surpass their differences without conditions," Fadlalla Burma Nasir, the NUP Deputy Chairman, told Xinhua.

"We do not see that the nomination of al-Bashir for a new term after 25 years would serve Sudan's main issues. It would deepen Sudan's issues rather than solve them," he said.

"We recall what happened in the 2010 elections and their outcome and wonder why we are repeating those mistakes. I think the priority is not for the elections, but for security and stability. This will not be achieved without strong efforts by all of Sudan's sons, (which require us) to avoid repeating of the previous electoral experiences."

Major opposition parties in Sudan have been calling for the elections to be delayed, saying that they need more time to raise funds and communicate with their supporters, but the government has refused their requests.

The government has also rejected the opposition's call for formation of a transitional government before the elections to resolve the deadly conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, which have forced thousands to flee their homes.

The coming election, slated for April 2015, will be the ninth of its kind in Sudan.

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