Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: When will we see the back of Bashir? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55337412

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir looks on during a meeting with former South African President and head of African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki (unseen) in Khartoum on September 10, 2014. (AFP Photo/Ashraf Shazly)

I do not know why the Sudanese regime has taken the trouble to hold sham elections that pretty much everyone sees through and whose outcome is already known. If President Omar Al-Bashir simply extends his term in office by another five years—that is, in addition to the 25 years and few months he has already served—he would save the Sudanese people the agony of having to witness this ridiculous and routine farce. This is not to mention saving the public treasury from spending hundreds of millions of Sudanese pounds—though these are the least of Bashir’s concerns.

As to why people do not believe the elections are genuine, the reasons are too many to mention. The most prominent reason is their familiarity with the National Islamic Front’s (NIF) tricks and its obsession with authority, as well as its determination to cling to power ever since it took the reins in a deceptive military coup. The NIF has expressed complete disregard for democracy and the peaceful transfer of power through the transparent process of acceding to the will of the people. The Islamist group has established its rule via oppression and intimidation while never hesitating to divide the country for the sake of monopolizing power over what remaining Sudanese soil it does have dominion over.

Bashir’s nomination—yet again—is among the reasons people disbelieve the NIF and its “front,” the National Congress Party (NCP), and fail to see any point in holding the elections. This is not to mention that the country’s constitution and the NCP’s statute both set a two-term limit for the president of Sudan.

Bashir himself has repeatedly said that he would not run for another term in office. By running for the presidency yet again Bashir has shown how little he respects the country’s constitution, not to mention publicly breaking his own promises. As typical of all Islamist groups, the NIF is driven by sheer greed for power and money and never hesitates to muffle dissent in order to monopolize power, which it sees as a privilege rather than a weighty responsibility.

The NIF leaders have given bizarre justifications for Bashir breaking his promise, again, and standing for election. A leading NIF figure, Nafea Ali Nafea, said that after examining and assessing the proportion of what has been achieved during Bashir’s current term in office the NIF has realized it has exceeded what his electoral program had promised. Such talk made people a few years ago adopt the “We laugh at what we hear” slogan, since the reality has always been different from the government’s slogans and fabrications. Bashir himself followed suit when he said he would not have run for president had it not been for “public insistence” for him to do so and promised that if re-elected he would leave power in 2020. Well, now he appears to have forgotten his promises to quit politics once his current term expires. In a statement made a few days ago, Bashir ironically said: “We do not deceive people or lie to them and the civilized project [of his government] will lead to Paradise.”

The former vice-president and “emir” of the NIF, Ali Osman Taha, defended Bashir’s nomination, saying that the present political and security conditions in Sudan required Bashir to continue his presidential duties. He also denied that the ruling party wants to appoint Bashir president—as though his already 25 years in power had not been a veritable life sentence slapped on the helpless people of Sudan. Some of those affiliated with the government have been more brazen, saying quite openly that they would like to remain in power whether through elections or other means.

And after all this, the regime is still pointlessly trying to stir up people’s interest in the elections through statements by ruling party officials or President Bashir’s numerous tours throughout the country. But it seems that the government and the people are on two different planets.

Those following Sudanese news websites will be able to witness the sheer number of caustic comments ridiculing the elections and the official statements. Even in Khartoum’s newspapers, news of the elections are dwarfed by those reporting the suffering of the Sudanese people as a result of meager living conditions and rampant corruption.

In fact, the majority of the Sudanese people are preoccupied with solving their own everyday problems and the economic crisis that has driven poverty rates to 47 percent according to official figures and 60 percent according to experts.

People know that without the remittances which millions of Sudanese expats around the world send to their families each year, the majority of the country would have been crushed by poverty, bar the very few well-to-do and those benefiting from the regime and its widespread corruption. As such, a growing popular discontent is now boiling under the surface and the public has shown complete indifference towards the elections, whose outcome they already know.

A tree is the symbol of Bashir’s electoral campaign, which the ruling party dubs “The Citizen.” The question on many Sudanese people’s tongues today is not how much Bashir will win the election by but, just when will Sudan see the back of him and his clique?