|BRIEFING PAPER NO. 1, JULY 1998
|ISBN 1 902489 05 5
2000 PRESIDENTIAL AND
a remarkably open political culture"
The Economist, January 2001
From 13-22 December 2000, Presidential and Parliamentary
elections were held in Sudan. The head of the General Election
Authority, Abdel-Moneim Zain Nahas, a former deputy chief
justice of Sudan, stated that there was a 66 percent turn-out
during the ten days of polling which ended on 22 December.
The General Election Authority said that a total of 8,153,372
out of Sudan's 12 million eligible voters cast their votes.
The previous 1996 elections, with a 72 percent voter turn-out,
saw five and a half million Sudanese vote. In addition to
the voting within Sudan, there were special polling centres
in more than 56 foreign countries at which expatriate Sudanese
were able to cast their votes.
President Bashir received 86 percent
of the votes cast in the presidential poll. This came to
some seven and a half million votes. Former president Jaafar
Nimeiri polled 9.6 percent of the vote. The three other
presidential candidates, Mahmoud Jiha, Dr Malik Hussein
and Samer Alhussien Osman Mansour received less than four
percent of the vote between them. President al-Bashir won
over ninety percent of the vote in twelve of Sudan's 26
states. He also won the capital Khartoum with 85.8 percent
of the vote. There was a boycott of the election by sections
of the Sudanese political opposition.
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) observer team stated
that the elections were held "in a conductive atmosphere
and in a democratic manner" despite "boycotts by
some major political parties". The observers said that
allowed the Sudanese people, including those outside
the country, to freely exercise their democratic rights.
Speaking after the results were announced, President Bashir
stated that the victory belonged to the Sudanese people and
not to himself:
It is your victory because you proved to the whole
world that you are for democracy, peace and political
President Bashir also pledged to work for national reconciliation:
I will be a president for all the people of Sudan and
not for those who voted for me.We will continue the search
for national reconciliation through peaceful dialogue
with all the opposition forces."
Bashir stated that "Our doors will be wide open to peace."
Sudan has a 360-member Parliament. Ninety seats are allocated
to women, trade unions and university graduates. One hundred
and twelve of the two hundred and seventy seats were uncontested,
and by the end of December results were available for 264
of the 270 constituencies. Of the results declared, the ruling
National Congress party won all but ten of the seats. These
ten seats were won by eight independents and two Muslim Brotherhood
candidates. A prominent Government loss was the Higher Education
Minister, Professor al-Zubair Beshir Taha, who lost his seat
to an independent.
Associated Press reported that the civil war prevented voting
in three of Sudan's 26 states. There was no voting in seventeen
war-affected constituencies, fifteen in southern Sudan and
two in the eastern Blue Nile states. Under the Sudanese constitution,
the President is empowered to appoint legislators for these
constituencies. A number of prominent southern Sudanese politicians
were duly nominated in February 2001.
The election was subject to a boycott by parts of the Sudanese
opposition. Speaking before the start of the elections, President
al-Bashir was critical of this partial boycott. He stated
that the Sudanese government had previously postponed the
elections for a year at the request of opposition parties.
President al-Bashir declared "we cannot wait any longer".
He said that the opposition parties had had two years during
which they could have re-organised and prepared for the elections:
The Constitution has granted the right to freedom of
association two years ago which was ample time for the
parties to organise themselves and it is not our fault
if some parties had failed to do so and we cannot delay
our programmes for ever.This will not be the last election
and we hope that the political parties will be ready for
another election after four years.
The newly-elected Parliament met for the first time on 12
February 2000. Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir, a Presidential advisor
on peace issues, was elected as Speaker of Parliament. Veteran
southern Sudanese politician Angelo Beda was elected deputy
speaker as was Abdallah Ahmed Hardallu.
The 1996 presidential and parliamentary elections in Sudan
were held on a no-party basis. The 1996 presidential election
was itself the first time that the Sudanese people were able
to directly elect their head-of-state. In November 1998, the
Sudanese Parliament approved a return to multi-party politics
in Sudan, political parties having previously been banned
since 1989. This return to multi-party politics followed the
ratification of a new Constitution earlier in 1998 which guaranteed
freedom of association, expression and religion. The United
Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection
of the right to freedom of opinion and expression stated in
March 2000 that "The Sudan has made great progress recently
and the Special Rapporteur notes with appreciation the attempts
of the Government to be more open with regard to freedom of
opinion and expression. These new developments are reflected
in greater political expression and more political debate
in the newspapers".
The Sudanese Presidential and Parliamentary elections were
observed by teams from the Organization of the African Unity
(OAU), League of Arab States and Arab Parliamentary Union.
Hereunder is the text of the statement issued by the OAU
Observer Team as been published by the OAU Secretariat General-Addis
Ababa in its Press Release No.123/2000; 29 December 2000.
At the invitation of the General Elections Authority of
the Republic of the Sudan and as part of the efforts of the
Organization of African Unity to support the democratization
process in Africa, the OAU Secretary General dispatched a
Nine-member Team to observe the elections from 5th to 23rd
December 2000 in the Sudan. The OAU Team, led by H.E. Ambassador
Pascal Gayama, observed the elections in various parts of
the country. Having witnessed various aspects of the electoral
process, including administrative arrangements, campaigns
and polling activities, and having held discussions with all
five presidential candidates as well as other parties, including
those which boycotted the elections, the Team wishes to commend
the General Elections Authority for the arrangements that
allowed the Sudanese people, including those outside the country
to freely exercise their democratic rights. The team took
note of the mechanism put in place to deal with the complaints
on voting irregularities. Equally, the OAU team wishes to
congratulate the Sudanese people in general for their maturity,
patience and the disciplined manner, which they manifested
through out the process. The OAU team, during its meetings
with the candidates and political parties, took note of their
concerns, such as the handling of the voters' rolls, the airtime
accorded by the government television and radio stations,
the high proposing and insurance fees charged to the sponsors
and their candidates, inadequate time to prepare for the elections,
lack of sufficient resources for the parties to participate
effectively etc. The team will transmit all the reported and
observed problems together with some suggestions on how best
to go about them, to the General Elections Authority in a
more detailed report of the team. It is acknowledge that in
a country of about 30 million people of the size of the Sudan,
it was inevitable that there would be some logistical challenges.
It is the team's hope that many of these challenges will be
overcome in future elections. While noting that some major
political parties boycotted the elections, it was encouraging
however, that the leaders from all sides expressed their readiness
and commitment to embark, after the elections, on a dialogue.
This will hopefully bring about national reconciliation. Given
the above-mentioned observations and other prevailing circumstances
it is the view of the OAU observer team that the overall exercise
was an important step towards democratization and that it
was conducted in a conducive atmosphere and in a satisfactory
manner. The OAU team takes this opportunity to express its
appreciation to some African Diplomatic Missions, the Arab
League, the Chad delegation and the Arab Parliamentary Union
for the friendly cooperation with the OAU Observers. More
important, the OAU team would like to express its sincere
thanks and gratitude to the General Elections Authority and
the people of the Republic of the Sudan for the hospitality
and close cooperation extended to it. The OAU would like to
reaffirm its commitment to the promotion of the democratization
process being undertaken by the people of the Sudan and will
always be ready to render any possible assistance that may
be required. Finally, the Organization of African Unity wishes
the government and the people of the Republic of the Sudan
lasting peace and continued prosperity.