Southern Sudanese Candidate Withdraws From Presidential Election Skip to main content

Southern Sudanese Candidate Withdraws From Presidential Election

Yasir Arman, a key challenger to Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir
 has withdrawn from the race
Photo: AFP
Yasir Arman, a key challenger to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has withdrawn from the race

Officials in southern Sudan say a key presidential candidate in upcoming elections is withdrawing from the race.

Officials from the former rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, say their candidate, Yasir Arman, has pulled out of the election.

Arman and party officials said the move is necessary because of electoral irregularities and continued conflict in Darfur.

Arman was seen as one of the favorites to compete with incumbent President Omar al-Bashir in the national vote, which begins April 11.


In a joint statement Wednesday, the United States, Britain and Norway voiced concern about restrictions on political freedoms in the lead up to the Sudanese elections, and called for a credible and peaceful vote to take place.

On Tuesday, the International Crisis Group accused Sudan's ruling National Congress Party of trying to rig the elections.

The conflict prevention group says the NCP has drafted election laws in its favor.  It also says President Bashir's party has "bought tribal loyalties" and used flawed census results to draft electoral districts.

The group's Sudan special adviser says "the legal environment for free and fair elections does not exist" in Sudan.  Faoud Hikmat also says international monitors should acknowledge that "whoever wins will lack legitimacy."

The Brussels-based group was especially critical of the electoral process in Darfur.  It said the ruling party went to great lengths to count its supporters in Darfur in the 2008 census but made little effort to include the nearly 2.6 million people who have been internally displaced by the region's ongoing conflict.

The Darfuri vote is critical because nearly 20 percent of Sudan's citizens live in the region.  Darfur also holds 86 of the 450 seats in the national assembly.

The April vote will be Sudan's first multi-party elections since 1986 and it is a key part of a 2005 peace deal that ended the country's north-south civil war.

On Monday, President Bashir said if former southern rebels boycott the elections, the Sudanese government will not allow the south to hold a referendum on becoming independent.

VOA NEWS

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