Sudan’s opposition said on Friday there had been widespread fraud in the country’s first open elections in 24 years and it would never accept results showing extensive victories by the ruling party.
Many opposition parties boycotted the presidential, legislative and gubernatorial elections before voting even began, accusing President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s party of trying to rig the votes, which aim to transform the oil producer into a democracy after decades of civil war.
But the few parties that participated in the complex elections said the preliminary reports of results from party agents observing the count were beyond belief. Results have not been officially announced.
“I was expecting there was going to be fraud but not to this extent,” said presidential candidate Abdelaziz Khaled.
“I’m amazed. This is chaos — this is not an election.”
The largest opposition party to enter the elections, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said it was getting reports of irregularities from all over Africa’s largest country.
“Everything is totally corrupt. We are fed up and we will never recognise these elections,” the DUP’s Salah al-Basha said.
Prior to the vote, he said the party was sure to win the governorships of at least six states. On Friday he said it looked to have won none.
No one was available to comment officially from Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party, but one member told Reuters the opposition were trying to cover up their loss. “All losing parties say this,” he said, but declined to be named.
Bashir had hoped a victory would legitimise his government in defiance of an International Criminal Court warrant for his arrest for war crimes in Darfur. But the withdrawal of his two main contenders tainted the vote’s credibility.
The National Elections Commission has so far only announced the results of 27 local and national parliamentary seats won by default as there was only one contender.
Official results will begin to emerge over the coming days as counts in the more than 10,000 voting centres are collated and sent to Khartoum to be announced.
Despite decades of civil war and a heavily armed population the five-day voting period witnessed no major armed violence, a step forward for the country and a key test ahead of a referendum next year on independence for south Sudan.
Sudanese monitors in the southern capital Juba also accused South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of blocking a fair poll. Kiir is expected to win the presidential election for the semi-autonomous south.
“(There is) a troubling trend in Juba of observers being obstructed from carrying out their right to observe the electoral process,” the monitors said in a statement.
International observers will issue reports on the voting this week. Sudanese opposition and civil society accused the international community of ignoring widespread irregularities.
“The technocrats of the international community … have chosen to turn a blind eye to all acts of corruption and the poor technical ability of the elections commission,” activist Hala al-Karib wrote on Friday on the Sudan Tribune website.
The opposition groups boycotting the elections say they will hold peaceful protests after the polls. However, many political analysts fear a newly elected NCP, freshly legitimised by the polls, may clamp down on political freedoms after the results.
“At some time, this right (to demonstrate) has to be granted fully to the people,” said senior NCP official Ghazi Salaheddin. “Not these days — the possibility of flare-up, clashes between demonstrators has to be borne in mind.”