Amum or Itto: Who is right about SPLM’s stance on Sudan elections?

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SPLM SG Pagan Amum and his deputy, Dr. Ann Itto (right), have been presenting contradictory positions about where the SPLM stands on the forthcoming elections.

(Victoria, BC NSV) - Mr. Pagan Amum is the secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the ruling party in the south. Dr. Ann Itto is his deputy. However, both are toeing contradictory stands on the Movement’s decision on the forthcoming elections.

Which brings us to whether voters should listen to Amum or Itto?

On Monday, Dr. Itto made it abundantly clear to reporters in Juba that the elections are to carry on as scheduled, come rain or shine.

"We are not only concerned about delays of election that might affect the [independence] referendum, but we feel like this is the time for elections, and our people are ready, and we do not want our people to be disappointed. SPLM has never requested for elections to be delayed," Itto said. 

She added that although members of the National Consensus, SPLM’s northern allies, have valid reasons to demand the postponement of the elections, she was hopeful that none of that would jeopardize the April polls. 

"Other political parties have issues, but most of them can be addressed without having to postpone the elections.  We want those issues addressed, but it does not mean that we want elections postponed. We recognize there are issues, but they can be addressed,” she said.

Fast forward to Tuesday, and a different picture emerges. The secretary general has come out swinging against President Bashir’s recent threat that if SPLM delays the elections, his party (NCP) would checkmate the referendum on southern Sudan due in January next year. 

“If Bashir wants to blackmail the people of southern Sudan, that blackmail will be confronted... it will be a violation of the rights of the people of southern Sudan,” Amum told RFI on Tuesday 

Asked by RFI whether NCP would cancel the elections if his opponents withdraw from the race, Amum said Bashir can go it alone if he so wishes. 

“Bashir can go ahead with these elections and he will contest them alone. At the presidency, no candidates will contest against him. He wants to be a president, so he can have it. He can have an easy walk to continuous presidency.”

Amum said in the interview that yesterday’s meeting of the presidency was cancelled because the NCP refused to consider a memorandum that the SPLM introduced about ensuring free and fair elections, and addressing the concerns of the opposition groups.

In the event that the northern opposition boycotts the elections, Amum said the SPLM in the north might also do the same. However, he said that the southern elections would remain unaffected.    

Amum added that President Bashir “has no grounds” to refuse to organize the referendum, stressing that the plebiscite is not attached to the national elections, saying the referendum is a southern matter.

Still, the SPLM leaves plenty of ambiguity on where it truly stands on the elections, particularly when you have the secretary general and his deputy espousing contrasting accounts.


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