April 21, 2019

Negotiating the election

In the face of a threatened boycott of the 2010 elections by Sudan opposition parties, the Sudan Tribune has an interesting report on what U.S. envoy, Scott Gration, has said to his interlocutor in the Sudanese government, Ghazi Salah Al-Deen, during his current visit to Khartoum.

I haven’t seen another source on this yet, but if the ST is correct then Gration has proposed:

  • April 2010 election be restricted to the Presidency, Vice Presidency and State Governors (postponing the legislative elections until the 2011 referendum)
  • Accept the results of the fifth census (i.e. the latest, contested, one) – but to amend the Constitution so that the CPA cannot be amended with anything less than an 80% vote.
  • Guarantee southern Sudan 30% of executive power (SPLM under the CPA has a mandated 28%) [If anyone knows whether the proposal is a minimum 30% spread among any southern party/ies, or 30% to the SPLM alone, please let me know]

I understand the logic behind much of this proposal (assuming it is indeed what has been proposed) and it does seem to try to account for the interests and concerns of both the NCP and SPLM:

The SPLM is concerned it will lose its current guaranteed 28%  bloc in parliament; that there hasn’t been enough time spend on voter registration to enable a population with a significant illiteracy rate to complete the 12 different ballots there will be for a full executive and legislative election; that the fifth census is inaccurate; that an inaccurate fifth census will lead to a legislature that can amend the CPA and deny the south a 2011 referendum. The NCP meanwhile argues that the fifth census was accurate. Bashir is particularly keen to see the Presidential election go ahead on time (back to “democratically elected Bashir” being preferable to “indicted war criminal Bashir”) but probably won’t resist the postponement of legislative elections.

Depending on the specific details, the 30% proposal presumably addresses the southern concerns about the loss of the 28% minimum. But in any case, if the legislative elections are not held until the day of the referendum then the SPLM gets to keep their current share until the day they can vote to secede. This means their biggest fear – that they will slip under the 26% needed to block any coordinated attempt to amend the CPA to deny them the 2011 referendum – is nullified.

In the context of allegations of fraudulent census data collection on the part of the NCP, the proposal to use the fifth census results favors NCP interests. But the trade-off the SPLM is offered for giving up that fight is the 80% requirement for amending the CPA (Art. 224(1) of the current Interim National Constitution requires three-quarters of both houses to get an amendment to the CPA so this is only an increase of 5%, however as per the above, if the legislature is only re-elected on referendum day then this risk – of a northern dominated parliament changing the CPA to remove the referendum – becomes a nullity anyway )

Dr Salah Al-Deen says they are “studying” the proposal (which made me wonder if they would study it like they first studied the proposal for a hybrid UN-AU force – – taking two and a half months to say – actually, no). Regardless I have two questions:

The first is: what do the many other political parties in the Sudanese system think of this kind of NCP – SPLM deal, given the spirit of the CPA as a document for all of Sudan?

The second is: what is the legitimacy of a legislature elected by people across all of Sudan, if the south of the country votes to secede – and therefore the legislature only legislates for people in the north? (this question arises regardless of when the legislative elections are held, but is brought into particularly sharp focus is they are held on the same day as the referendum).


  1. Martina Knee says:

    Where does this proposal leave Darfuris who appear not to be mentioned?

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