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Sudan opposition parties in elections boycott

Sudan's Democratic Unionist Party head Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani 
speaks in Khartoum. Photo: 1 April 2010
The decision was taken at a meeting of opposition parties in Khartou
Most of Sudan's main opposition parties have said they will boycott presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections this month.
The southern SPLM has already said it is boycotting the presidential election over fraud and security fears.
It is a major blow to the credibility of the 11-13 April elections - the first national multi-party polls for 24 years, the BBC's James Copnall says.

The announcement comes after crisis talks hosted by US envoy Scott Gration.
President Omar al-Bashir, wanted for alleged war crimes in Darfur, now faces only one major challenger.
Veteran Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi confirmed that candidates from his Popular Congress Party would contest the polls.
Zeinab Badawi
Zeinab Badawi, BBC News, Khartoum
The aim of the boycott is to rob President Omar al-Bashir of the opportunity to legitimise his rule.
He has governed Sudan for more than 20 years, but his indictment by the International Criminal Court on alleged war crimes in Darfur now hangs around his neck like a millstone.
He has been campaigning vigorously in the run-up to the vote on 11 April, travelling across Sudan, and was busy rallying his supporters in Sennar - east of Khartoum - as his opponents plotted their withdrawal.
His dilemma now is how to respond to the boycott. It is also a blow for Washington, which was laying a lot of store on these elections and wanted them to go ahead.
But the Umma party of former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, the Democratic Unionist Party and the Communist party have all said they will no longer participate. They first announced a boycott of the presidential poll, and then extended the boycott to all polls.
"The forces of national consensus have decided to reject and boycott the elections at all levels," Mariam al-Mahdi of the Umma party told a news conference.
The opposition parties and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) - which serves in a coalition at national level with President Omar al-Bashir - all believe the electoral process has been rigged in favour of his National Congress Party.
They say the registration process has been flawed, and their access to state media and rights to hold rallies restricted.
Farouk Abu Issa, a spokesman for a loose alliance of parties opposed to Mr Bashir, said to go ahead would risk putting the country "on fire".
SPLM presidential candidate Yassir Arman: "There is continous control and rigging"
SPLM presidential candidate Yassir Arman announced on Wednesday that he was pulling out of the election.
He also cited a lack of preparedness for the election in the Darfur region, where a rebellion has been taking place since 2003.
"The people of Darfur in the internally displaced people's camps asked the SPLM not to be involved in the election," he said.
"Our response to the people of Darfur's Political Bureau is that we have decided not to run."
Threat over referendum
The SPLM is still planning, however, to contest the parliamentary and municipal elections elsewhere in Sudan on the same day as the presidential poll.
Africa's biggest country
Deeply divided along religious and ethnic lines
11 April elections intended to be first multi-party national poll for 24 years
Continuing conflict in Darfur
President Bashir wanted for war crimes in Darfur
South Sudan rebuilding after 21 years of civil war
South Sudan could secede in 2011
Large oil fields near north-south border

The US envoy to Sudan is meeting all the parties in an effort to keep the elections on track, our correspondent says.
He said earlier that if the opposition withdrew from the legislative elections it was not clear whether they would still be held.
President Bashir has threatened to cancel a promised referendum on independence for the South if the SPLM boycotts the poll.
However the SPLM and Western countries have said that the referendum and the election are separate issues, which should not be linked.
The SPLM joined the unity government in 2005 as part of a peace deal ending a two-decade civil war.
Some 1.5 million people died in the conflict between the mainly Muslim North and the South, where most people are Christian or follow traditional beliefs.



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