Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
When it takes place in Sudan.
Preparations for Sudan’s general elections — due to start tomorrow — were thrown into confusion over the past two weeks as opposition parties issued contradictory statements over whether they were boycotting the polls.
Some announced a total withdrawal, protesting against fraud and unrest in Darfur, only to change their minds days later. Others pulled out from parts of the elections — presidential, parliamentary and gubernatorial votes are taking place at the same time — then changed their minds days later. Others left it up to individual candidates to decide.
Even a day ahead of voting in the divided oil-producing state, serious questions remain.
These confusions are more than mere technicalities.
They will hinder the ability of Sudanese voters to make clear choices when they start queuing up for their first multi-party elections in 24 years.
These are confusing times in Sudanese politics — so confusing that even the activists are struggling to keep up with the shifting positions of their own parties a week ahead of national elections.
This morning, a spokesman from south Sudan’s dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) called round journalists inviting them to a demonstration in Khartoum.
Hosting a rare debate between Sudan’s much-maligned National Elections Commission (NEC) and opposition parties, the privately owned Blue Nile television was taking a risk broadcasting live to the nation.
In a country where, ahead of April’s first multi-party elections in 24 years, party political broadcasts are pre-recorded and censored, the evening promised to be fun.
It started with a small scuffle over a confiscated bag of protest banners outside Sudan’s parliament. And it ended in confrontations between baton-wielding police and protesters on the dusty streets of Omdurman.
At the finish, once the tear gas and protests leaflets had settled, just one victor emerged — in the propaganda stakes at least — the protesters from a loose alliance between south Sudan’s dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and mostly northern opposition parties.
On the evening of the 20th of March 1878, Ethiopia’s two great rivals, Emperors Yohannes IV and Menelik II, came face-to-face to thrash out their differences.
As the two men met for the first time, traditional Ethiopian singers are said to have sang “A road that is perilous is far / you have to climb and then descend.”
Last year Mauritania’s first democratically elected president, Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi, was ousted in a coup led by General Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz.
Next week, the country goes to the polls to elect a president but opposition parties say the elections won’t be fair and are asking people to stay away.
Though a few opposition candidates are still in the race, analysts say there is no real threat to Abdel Aziz and expect him and his Union for the Republic party to win. Meanwhile the opposition coalition holds regular protests.