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April Elections in Sudan: Democracy or Dictator's GrammyAlysha Atma Salem-News.com
The shadow that is hanging over this country is large, complex and terrifying for many that call Sudan home.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Sudan is expected to participate in the country’s first elections; some say the first in 24 years, many Sudanese declare the first EVER. To pronounce these elections free and fair is as far from humorous as it is from reality.
Running for presidential re-election, is the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted war criminal, Omar Al-Bashir. He took over the government in a military coup in 1989 and has since committed unspeakable acts of crimes against humanity, in both South Sudan and Darfur.
Martin BuBa: Two million died because of war, famine and disease in the South, and another four million fled during the civil war. (Al-Bashir) is not affected by the indictment, sanctions are not working, he is running for re-election; making the situation look like it is fine and nothing changed. You will not see democracy if he is in power. Look empirically at what he has done since I was a kid. The international community should apply pressure, and monitor the elections independently. Promised developments are not taking place; people are still dying, no hospitals, no clinics and no education. Many are left suffering to find a way, yet the government is maintaining and thriving. Without a change, peace may not come at all. As long as Bashir wins the election, governors will win from his side. The country will go into chaos.
With so many layers of government up for election, the process is confusing and often laborious; insecurity continues to rise therefore hindering both the registering and voting logistics. In a country as expansive as Sudan, lacking both infrastructure and a reliable process, registering everyone within the short time frame allotted has been virtually impossible.
Recent voter numbers suggest that the representation is highly unequal, the marginalized south and west appear to signify only a fraction of total voter registration. This presents an enormous problem, compounded with a literacy rate of just over 50% in the North, and less than 25% in the South. The logistics of this first-time Democratic election process are daunting.
According to sources, many Sudanese are afraid to vote; in the south the fear is it will disrupt the agreements within the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). With the lack of infrastructure, schools, hospitals and clinics, one of the many obstacles is proper documentation. Without suitable identification, the process to register is hindered until one can be identified by other means, otherwise the voter will not be recognized.
In one year the South will vote in a 2011 Referendum toward attaining its autonomy from the North. The years of struggle and lack of participation in government, the marginalized South has fought for their independence for over two decades.
Stipulated within the CPA are agreements on power and resource sharing between the North and South. Just as the election, this was an agreed upon solution and part of the peace process.
Many South Sudanese are said to not register to vote during this election; they feel the referendum election is far more important and will hold out in hopes of gaining their independence. With their autonomy come the monetary resources they need to stabilize and sustain their country in an effort to begin to prosper; build schools and hospitals and revitalize agriculture.
In Darfur, many are in Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps or on the border of Chad in refugee camps. Countless Darfuris do not want to register, for fear they will lose their lands and the homes that they fled as a result of the violence in Sudan. The Government of Sudan (GOS) has threatened to forsake their legal claims when they were forcibly displaced; then giving their lands to the very same people that committed atrocious acts against the Darfuris.
Excerpt from Coalition for Freedom and Democracy at damanga.org:
April 6, 2009-Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy has received information confirming that Abuzar Camp was attacked and burned for the third time since March 4th, 2009. Sudanese government personnel and Janjaweed militiamen blocked all efforts to extinguish the fire, causing the death of five refugees & leaving dozens suffering with severe burns. 90% of the camp was destroyed as a result as well. Food supplies have dwindled and are no longer existent in these areas, causing a rise in the death toll to be inevitable.
According to inside sources and activists, the elections are a sham; a Grammy performance given by Al-Bashir. How can free and fair elections come about with an indicted war criminal? The overwhelming feeling is that he will not allow another candidate to win; through intimidation, government controlled monitoring and complex voting procedures. The opinion is that he will continue to control the country in the same fashion as he has during the last 21 years.
The United States in support of the Sudanese elections has given a 100 million tax dollar contribution. “This is an investment that legitimizes and justifies over 2.5 million of the Sudanese people being brutally exterminated by mass murder, starvation, rape, forced displacement, and plundering at the hands of their own government. Did we also mention that it will help legitimize and justify the potential killing of millions of more defenseless people”?
The repeated opinion in statements that I have received over the last few weeks is “Nothing will change.” This is a formidable issue; that so much power can be enabled by the moral hypocrisy within politics.
The International community has a responsibility to stand up against rogue leaders and to oversee the democratic process and rights for all. If we allow this status quo within Sudan we set precedent for other countries in turmoil to do the same. We are in effect legitimizing a genocidal dictator’s rule over a country and its people, the consequences of which are far-reaching and will hinder those that look to emulate our own democratic process.
The shadow that is hanging over this country is large, complex and terrifying for many that call Sudan home. The escalation in violence is profound, and instability between the North and south is ever prominent. How will our complicity play a role in the formation of a peaceful, unified democratic Sudan?
“We can’t ignore the genocide in Darfur… we have to do everything in our power to make it stop. We have to act. Now”. President Obama
There are many ways citizens from around the country can stand against this moral hypocrisy;
Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the belegured people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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