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Presidential Race: 13 candidates, including one woman

The Presidential candidates as elections draw closer!

The National Flag

At 6 PM, on Wednesday evening (January 27), the National Elections Commission concluded the nomination process to the office of the president at the general elections, due next April. On Wednesday, the overall picture of the presidential race was completed. The number of candidates authorised came to 13, representing 10 political parties, in addition to independent candidates.

The candidates who submitted their credentials by the deadline yesterday evening are: Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir from the National Congress, Imam Sadiq Al-Mahdi, from National Umma Party, Mohammad Ibrahim Naqd, from Sudan's Communist Party, Yasir Saeed Arman, from SPLM, Hatim al-Sir Ali, from National Democratic Union, Abdullah Deng Nihal, from Popular Congress, Abdul Aziz Khalid Osman, from Sudanese National Alliance, Mubarak Al-Fadil Al-Mahdi, from Ummah Party - Reform and Renewal, Fatima Ahmed Abdul-Mahmoud, from Sudanese Democratic Socialist Party, and Muneer Sheikhaddin, from New Democratic Party. Independent candidates include Mahmoud Juha, Kamel Idris, and Abdullah Ali Ibrahim.

Withdrawal and Dismembership

Wednesday also witnessed the withdrawal of candidate Mahmoud Al-Soufi (Reform Party) from the presidential race and from his party due to lack of support. He said he would be holding a press conference in the coming days to disclose many surprising facts, as he put it.

The 25% Independents

All independent candidates submitted their credentials on Wednesday for NEC approval. These account for about 25% of the total number of the presidential candidates. They represent 23.1% of the overall candidature list, delivered in the last day.

Presidential Candidates
Presidential Candidates for Sudanese National Elections April 2010

First Rankers ….

The 10 participating parties have involved their senior leaders with six of them nominating their first leaders (Al-Bashir for NCP, Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi for National Umma, Mohammad Ibrahim Nugod for Communist Party, Mubarak Al-Fadel for Ummah-Reform and Renewal, Fatima Abdul-Mahmoud for Sudanese Democratic Socialist Party and Muneer Sheikhaddin for the New Democratic Party. Two parties have nominated second-rank leaders (the deputy secretary general of the Popular Congress, Abdullah Deng Nihal and the Head of the National Alliance Central Council, Abdul Aziz Khaled. Two parties have nominated senior leaders (deputy secretary general of Northern Sector's Popular Movement, Yasir Arman and Hatem Al-Sir, National Democratic Union's Information Official and Party spokesman).

The reluctance of certain first leaders to run for elections may have several reasons, the most important being their participation in other elections levels than presidential elections. General Salva Kiir Mayardit, Popular Movement Chairman, has presented his candidature for the post of President of the Government of Southern Sudan, while Dr. Hassan Al-Turabi, the leader of Popular Congress Party, has decided to run for the National Council in Khartoum. The national elections law does not allow persons to run for more than one executive or legislative position at any national levels, in the South or in the provinces.

The second reason is that certain parties prefer not to involve their first leaders for organizational or political reasons (as in the case of Maulana Mohammad Osman al-Merghani, Chairman of the Democratic Alliance Party) or for organizational reasons to enable the leader to devote himself to internal affairs (as in the case of Amir Babakr, Chairman of the Sudanese National Alliance Executive Bureau).

It is evident, however, that the reasons of first leaders not running for elections have nothing to do with possible internal rivalry with their party candidates. All party leaders blessed and participated in the process of their parties' candidatures. Most prominent of such participation was the National Alliance Party's chairman, Amir Babakr's taking part in the credentials presentation of Abdul Aziz Khalid at the Elections Commission premises on Wednesday.

Last Moments

A feature of Sudan is "mission accomplishment at the eleventh hour" or as the local saying goes: "shopping in the last day before the Eid". This has even affected the performance of political parties. The NEC office experienced on Wednesday a rush for submission by presidential candidates. This also applied to the HQ of the Supreme Elections Commission at Khartoum and other provinces in the Sudan. Political parties vied to register their candidates with the electoral constituencies and political bills.

Seven out of the thirteen candidates submitted their credentials on Wednesday (the last day). More precisely, 53.8% of the presidential elections candidact applications were submitted in the last day. If we add to those the credentials presented the day before, i.e. Sadiq Al-Mahdi, Mubarak Al-Fadel Al-Mahdi and Fatima Abdul Mahmoud who presented their candidature the day before yesterday, we will have 10 out of 13 credentials (77%) being submitted in the last 48 hours.

Former Presidents

The curriculum vitae of the 13 candidates reveal that two of them have already ruled the country. The first was Imam Sadiq Al-Mahdi, who twice assumed the office of prime minister (the first in the 1960's and the second came after the National Umma had won parliamentary majority in 1986). He stayed in office until he was overthrown by a military coup on June 30, 1989.

The second candidate to have formerly ruled the country was Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, considered the longest serving president since Sudan's independence. One term (1989-1996) was without elections, two through elections (1996-2000) and (2000-2005) and a third through the comprehensive Peace Accord (2005-2010).

It is necessary to note that there are differences between the two rules of Al-Mahdi and Al-Bashir; the first ruled under a parliamentary system in which executive and legislative powers are integrated and the government is formed after winning the confidence of the parliament and is subjected to a vote of no-confidence by it. Al-Bashir, on the other hand, ruled the country through a presidential republican system in which executive and legislative powers are separated and under which the president is directly elected by the people and is empowered to form the government. The government is responsible before the president for discharging its affairs.

Comparing the two systems, we find that the president of the republic enjoys broad powers by virtue of the constitutional decrees under which the country is ruled. These powers have also been conferred in accordance with constitutions of 1998 and 2005. Although Al-Mahdi ruled the country twice under a parliamentary system, the man and his party have historically called for adopting the presidential system. At his opening speech before the 7th General Assembly meeting of Umma National Party last January, Al-Mahdi considered the presidential system one of the positive salvation processes his party will maintain in case he wins the forthcoming general elections.

Worked together….

We may also notice that 5 candidates had worked together after the years in which the salvation opposition bloc abroad had concerted their efforts. These include Imam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, Mubarak Al-Fadel, Hatem Al-Sir, Yasir Arman and Abdul Aziz Khalid. Although the Communist Party existed in that bloc, its secretary general Mohammad Ibrahim Naqd, was not present amongst the leaders of that alliance.

Besides, both the candidates of the National Congress, Omar Al-Bashir and the Popular Congress Party, Abdullah Deng Nihal, worked at the salvation authority institutions, prior to the Islamists’ separation in 2000, when the latter aligned with the Popular Congress party’s mainstream, led by Dr. Hassan Al-Turabi.

First time ….

Apart from Al-Bashir and Juha, the rest of the 11 candidates are taking part in the presidential race for the first time in their political history. Al-Bashir participated in the 1996 and 2000 elections, while Juha had participated in the 2000 elections as a contestant with Al-Bashir. In those elections, in which Al-Bashir had won, Juha ranked fifth, preceded by former president Jaafar Nimeiri, Dr. Malik Mansour and Dr. Al-Sumual Hussein Mansour.

At the level of the parties taking part in the elections, 4 parties with their present names had previously participated in the past elections. They belonged to the following parties: the National Congress, Democratic Alliance, Umma National Party, and the Communist Party. There are parties which participated in the previous elections prior to their divisions under different titles. The Umma Party- Reform and Renewal took part in the multi-party elections of 1986 under the name of National Umma Party before its breakaway in 2002. The same applies to the Popular Congress Party, which went to the 1996 elections, and previous to that it took part under the banner of the Sudanese Islamic Movement with different names – Mithaq Front and the Islamic Front, as well as under the banner of the National Congress, prior to party breakaway and the Islamic Movement in 2000. This situation also applies to the New National Democratic Party, which participated in the multi-party elections of 1986 under the umbrella of the Sudanese National Party, prior to its breakaway from that party.

The Socialist Unionist Party, which ruled the country from the seventies of the past century until the April 1985 revolution, which overthrew the regime of former president the late Jaafar Nimeiri, takes part in these multi-party elections under the name of the Socialist Union. Although former Sudan leader Jaafar Nimeiri participated in the presidential elections of 2000, he did so as a candidate for the Alliance of the People's Working Forces, where Sudan's political arena has three political parties, under which the supporters of the so-called May Era are aligned.

From Militant Action to Political Agenda….

Both the Sudan People's Liberation Movement party and Sudan National Alliance are taking part in the forthcoming elections for the first time in their history. It should be noted in this regard that both these parties have similar tendencies. Both parties started their political career through adoption of armed action prior to the emergence of their political movements. The Sudan People's Liberation Army came into existence in the wake of the Bor rebellion of May 1983.

Sudan National Alliance party was set up in 1994 under the name of Sudan Alliance Forces, whose armed operations were first started in eastern Sudan in April 1996 after the party's second congress, organized in 2001 under the slogan of "Towards Building a Broad-based Popular Party". At that time, the Sudan National Alliance appeared and replaced the Sudan Alliance Forces. The party forces experienced fragmentation as a consequence of the internal division among the organization leaderships in 2004.

The Search for Political Backgrounds

It is important in this regard to emphasize that all 13 candidates have political party histories, with the exception of Dr. Kamel Edris, who enjoys fame as a prominent Sudanese personality by virtue of his position as secretary general of Intellectual Property Organization. He has not been known to have had any political party affiliations. His most prominent political role lay in his arrangement of a meeting between Sudan's Parliament Speaker and the National Congress Secretary General, prior to the division between the National Congress Party and Popular Congress. The meeting brought together Dr. Hassan Al-Turabi and the National Umma Party leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi in the Swiss capital in June 1999. That meeting was historically known by the name of ' the Geneva Meeting'.

Independent candidate, Mahmoud Ahmad Juha's political background is said to have been associated with Islamic mainstream membership at Khartoum University during the second half of the 60's of the past century. When the armed confrontations took place between former president Jaafar Nimeiri's regime and the opposition at Al-Jazeera Aba locality in 1970, he was supposed to have joined the opposition forces at that area. But, the attacks by the Sudanese army on that locality prevented him from joining the opposition ranks. Following the national reconciliation of 1977, he joined the parliament and was not known to have engaged in any apparent political party activities during the third democracy era. Analytical reports, however, indicate that he has maintained affiliations with the National Islamic Front party.

Contrary to Juha, Dr. Abdullah Ali Ibrahim, is a prominent member of Sudan Communist Party and Leftist Movement. He was a close ally of the Party's secretary general Mr. Abdul Khaliq Mahjoub, who was hanged during Nimeiri's rule after the failure of the July 1971 coup. He was among the party members who disappeared for some time to run the party's political action. Later, he abandoned the Communist ranks and deposited his party documents at the National documentation Center.

Now that candidatures have come to a close and the 13 presidential contestants in the race for the office of president of the republic due in April this year have emerged, the question posed at this stage is: who will win the race and get the grand prize of President of the Republic of the largest country in the African continent and the first independent state south of the Sahara desert? …. The answer to this question will be decided through the choice of more than 15 million voters this April.


The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions or opinions of the publishers of www.theniles.org

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