Sudan's SPLM Says President Bashir Sends Troops in Plan to Rig State Vote

Southern Sudan’s main party accused President Umar al-Bashir’s government of sending military forces to a key state on the border between north and south Sudan in preparation for announcing fraudulent election results.

Yasser Arman, the SPLM’s candidate for the presidency who withdrew from the April 11-15 elections, said Bashir’s National Congress Party wanted to rig the results for the election of governor in Blue Nile state. An NCP official denied the charge.

“The NCP, they are sending forces, we are just cautioning everybody that is not good, that is not part of the election process,” Arman told reporters in Khartoum, the capital. “The SPLM will not have any problem if the majority of the people are voting for the National Congress Party. But if the majority are voting for us, this should be respected.”

Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states are along the border between north and Southern Sudan, which is scheduled to hold a referendum in January to decide if it will become an independent nation. Last week’s vote, Sudan’s first multiparty elections in 24 years, was part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the SPLM and the government in Khartoum that ended a 21- year war in which as many as 2 million people died.

Sudan is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest producer of crude oil, pumping about 480,000 barrels a day, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Most of the oil fields are in the south.

Peace

“These statements do not have any truth to them,” Rabie Abdel Ati, a senior NCP official and adviser to the minister of information, said by phone from Khartoum. “The National Elections Commission has put a security plan and they are securing the whole country.”

In Juba, Southern Sudan’s capital, SPLM officials urged calm about the election results so that violence wouldn’t derail the referendum on independence.

“I urge all of us, candidates, agents of the candidates, those who have lost, to use the respective institutions designed to address complaints,” Anne Itto, the SPLM’s deputy secretary- general, told reporters. “We need peace in order to get to the next stage.”

Sudan’s elections for the presidency, parliament and state offices failed to meet international standards, according to international observers such as the European Union and the Carter Center, as well as local monitors.

Bashir, 66, has been charged by the International Criminal Court with responsibility for war crimes in the Darfur region where his government has fought a seven-year war against rebels in which as many as 300,000 people have died, mainly due to illness and starvation. The government puts the death toll at about 10,000.

Arman pledged that the SPLM would work to keep the peace and said that any attempt to rig the Blue Nile vote would fail.

“Everyone who swallows the people’s will, will not be able to digest it,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Maram Mazen in Khartoum via Cairo at mmazen@bloomberg.net; Alan Boswell in Juba at aboswell2@bloomberg.net.

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