The President of the Republic of the Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, launched his election campaign in the capital stadium of Bentiu, Unity State. He declared that any postponement of the elections would not be tolerated and would lead to the postponement or cancellation of the referendum.
Visiting the oil rich state for the third time, the President rallied support for his NCP Party by promising educational, transport and water services to the people. He committed to building a university and to building a tarmac highway between Unity State and South Kordofan State for tarmac road.
The President emphasised the need for respect of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and condemned the harassment of others political parties in Southern Sudan. He announced that "peace and people's rights must be respected in this election campaign". He added that "without peace in Sudan, nobody can receive the changes in social and economic situation that the people of Unity State so deserve". This drew huge applause from the crowd in the stadium.
In his speech, the President noted Unity State as having the highest oil production in the country and that its people people needed to see the benefits of this. Speaking with Sudan Votes after the speech, President Bashir told me that his election slogan of a tree for his campaign came from a strong memory he had of the beautiful trees in Unity State and that he held the people of Unity close to his heart.
He also told me how his political success came about from the powers given to him by a Nuer witch doctor in 1986. This very same witch doctor, from Bull Nuer called Gatdeng, he was going to fly to in Mayom County, after the election rally in Bentiu stadium, for a final consultation to continue his rule of Sudan.
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Bonifacio works as a freelance correspondent for diverse publications in South Sudan.
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