Upcoming national elections are big, but next year's vote on secession is bigger. It is considered likely that Sudan's south will vote for complete independence in the 2011 plebiscite. One of the best sources of information are the aid organizations (NGOs, or non-governmental organizations) working in Sudan. But these foreigners have to be careful what they say. The national government can make it very difficult for an NGO to operate. The national government controls the main seaport, Port Sudan. Aid can be shipped in via road (and to a limited extent, by air) from Kenya and Uganda, but large loads move by sea, then by truck. The politics are even more, complicated, however. The aid organizations also want to maintain good relations with the Government of South Sudan (GOSS). It could eventually be exactly that, the government of an independent South Sudan. The independence vote (called a secession vote by the northerners) is scheduled for January 2011.
April 4, 2010: The Sudanese National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced that the national vote (scheduled for April 11-13) will be held despite the SPLM's limited boycott. The national elections will be the first country-wide multi-party elections held since 1986. The European Union intends to deploy 130 election observers to Sudan as part of an international election observer mission.
April 1, 2010: The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM, the south's ruling party) announced that its presidential candidate in the upcoming national elections would withdraw. Yasir Arman is (was) the SPLM candidate for president. The SPLM accused the national government (specifically, the ruling National Congress Party) of planning to rig the upcoming elections. The party said the reason its candidate withdrew from the presidential race was because the election would not be fair. The SPLM will also boycott the polls in Darfur (ie, it will not runs candidates in the entire region). SPLM politicians had been threatening to boycott the elections entirely. The decision to withdraw its presidential candidate throws the entire election process into doubt. It means the current president, Omar al-Bashir, will be re-elected. He is also under indictment for war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Darfur boycott is a slap at al-Bashir, given his war crimes indictment. The SPLM move is an attempt to de-legitimize any vote in Darfur. The presidential withdrawal and elective boycott also indicate that the SPLM is looking toward the 2011 independence plebiscite-- with the intent of becoming its own independent government.
March 30, 2010: A south Sudan splinter party claims that several of its members have been attacked by members of the ruling Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM). The splinter party is the Sudan People's Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC)
March 29, 2010: Sudanes president Omar al-Bashir said that if the SPLM boycotts the national election the 2011 independence plebiscite will not be held. Several northern splinter parties may be considering boycotting the election as well.
March 28, 2010: A splinter faction of the Sudan Liberaton Army (SLA, in Darfur) claimed it shot down two Sudanese military helicopters. The incidents took place in South Darfur state. The Sudanese government denied the claims but did say two helicopter crashed due to mechanical malfunctions (in one case, sand in the engine). Sand bedevils helicopter operations everywhere. This could well be an example of a rebel group using a crash as an opportunity to get headlines.
March 25, 2010: The African Union-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID, held a ceremony honoring 315 soldiers serving in China's 3rd Chinese Peacekeeping Engineering Company and 300 soldiers serving with an Egyptian battalion.
March 23, 2010: ICC senior prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that attempting to monitor Sudan's upcoming election is the equivalent of trying to monitor an election in Hitler's Germany. Moreno-Ocampo played a key role in the indictment of Sudan president Omar al-Bashir.
March 22, 2010: Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir threatened to kick international election observers out of the country if they interfered in Sudan's election process. Some international monitors have said that the logistical preparations for the upcoming vote are not adequate. Al-Bashir insists they are and that the election will not be delayed.