Friday, April 23, 2010

Sudan Elections: Obama's Message to Sudan's Pharoah "Redemption? Legitimacy? Respect? You shall have none of it!"

While reviewing and and organizing the flood of global news and commentary centered around Sudan's historic polls, I came across some outstanding news coverage and writing by ordinary citizens and professional journalists on the ground in Sudan.  Anyone who has carefully followed news and events in Sudan over the past 5-7 years (much of it dominated by the violence and exterminations which have taken place in Darfur and South Sudan, and the International Criminal Court's indictment and arrest warrant for Sudan's President)... anyone who has a deep interest in African affairs will tell you that these elections in Sudan are really important not only for this vast country but also for the many efforts and programs to establish democracy and good governance all across the African continent.

As the Obama Administration, the Sudan Troika (U.S.A., Norway, and the U.K.), and a handful of democratic governments and international organizations struggle to come to terms with what has transpired in these openly fraudulent, manipulated polls across Africa's largest country___ each day that passes while Sudan's National Election Commission withholds the election results (cooking the votes), a new scandal emerges.

As the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (The Jackal) visits his ace-boon-dictator buddy President Robert Mugabe (The Crocodile) for celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Republic of Mugabe Inc. (formerly known as Zimbabwe and Rhodesia), as well as being honored at a state dinner and having talks about Iranian investments in Zimbabwe, the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley made the following comments regarding Sudan's elections:

U.S. Department of State Daily Press Briefing - April 20, 2010
(Hat Tip to Martha Bixby over at the Save Darfur Coaltion blog for the lead)

MR. CROWLEY (State Department): New topic.

QUESTION (Reporter): New topic? Sudan. When the U.S. came out – when the Obama Administration came out with its policy on Sudan, it talked about incentives and disincentives in the process. And I’m wondering – I’ve seen the statements on the elections, but I’m wondering if there are any consequences for Bashir’s government for carrying out such a marred election process.

MR. CROWLEY (State Department): Well, I think, Michelle, we have to put that in a little broader context. As the international monitoring groups have indicated, the recent elections – and the results are still pending – did not meet international standards. There are a number of reasons for that, some based on the fact that elections have not occurred in Sudan for some time and some because the government did not create the appropriate atmosphere and did not take the steps it should have taken to insure a free, fair, and competitive election. So – and we’ve expressed those concerns before the election and we have expressed those concerns since the election. That said, we also recognize that Sudan is facing vitally important decisions and referenda in the coming months that will shape, literally, its future. And we will work with the Governments of North and South Sudan to continue to press them to fulfill all of their obligations under the comprehensive peace agreement. They have to do – there are many things they have to specifically do with respect to different parts of Sudan from Darfur to Abyei to the south of Sudan. To the extent that the Government of Sudan was looking for redemption or legitimacy in what happened here, they will get none of it. But we recognize that there are specific things that we have to do in Sudan to prepare the country for the referenda early next year. There are very important things that need to be done to insure full implementation of the CPA and to, among other things, prevent Sudan from slipping back into conflict. So we will engage North and South on that basis and prod them, push them, support them as they take steps leading to the referenda next January.

End excerpt from U.S. State Department Press Briefing - April 20, 2010

So there you have it.  According to the U.S. State Department spokesman, as far as Omar al Bashir and his regime getting any redemption (from alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, etc.) or legitimacy as the democratically-elected government of Sudan___ the present Khartoum regime will NOT receive official recognition from the Obama Administration , from the U.S. Congress, and especially no support from the people of the United States of America.  "No respect!"  "Nothin' but the sharp end of a stick!"

The National Congress Party and Bashir had a chance to finally do something right for all the people of Sudan by holding free-and-fair elections and peacefully accepting the outcome.  Instead they chose to cheat, lie, and steal___ defying the wishes of millions of voters and honest citizens in Sudan yet again so that the regime could retain power and control over the country's resources (vast untapped oil reserves), land, and people.  Omar Hassan Ahmad al Bashir: modern-day Pharoah of Sudan, the Land of the Blue and White Nile.  The true Black Pharoahs of Sudan (the ancient kingdoms of Nubia and Kush) must be turning in their crypts just thinking about this guy.  If all else fails to remove Bashir and his cabel of thugs from power and bring them to justice, there is a last resort:  the curse of the pharoahs.

In addtion to this week's breaking news about Sudanese election officials being caught red-handed stuffing ballot boxes with falsified votes, Alex de Waal's SSRC blog "Making Sense of Sudan" has an article from Sudanese contributor Hafiz Mohammed describing in detail how the ruling National Congress Party (NCP, formerly the National Islamic Front) has been systematically buying-off candidates, voters, and votes all across North and South Sudan to the tune of hundreds of millions in Sudanese Pounds, choice government jobs, new cars and houses.

Here is an excerpt from Hafiz Mohammed's post titled "Corruption and the Election":

There is one very important issue which has not been raised by anyone, as I have listened to all reports from the election observers , until now , that is the buying and selling of votes and loyalty. According to my estimate this has amounted to not less than one billion US dollars over the last two years.

For the last year and in every Sudanese region, the issue of buying the loyalty of tribal and community leaders has been happening. This has not been by investing in their communities in terms of health, education and other services but instead in a crude way, by bribing them with cash or other material resources or jobs. Above all, it is cash. That has occurred not only for traditional leaders, but political parties also. The recent row about the amount given to the Umma Party, just two days before the election is one example. This amount was given in cash , and not through bank transfer or cheque and without any signature from the recipient. Until now we don’t know whether it was two million Sudanese pounds (US$ 800,000) or four million (US $1,600,000). It was a bribe for the Umma Party to participate in the election. We don’t know from where this amount was paid and what was the budget line, whether it was from the public purse or not.

In the run up to the election, people were talking about putting up your candidateship for election and then bargaining to withdraw it. If you stand down in favour of the NCP candidate, you will be paid. The price normally depends on the expected number voters who might vote for you. Tens of candidates withdraw their candidateship in favour of the NCP candidates and people were talking about the price they were paid for this.

End excerpt from Hafiz Mohammed's article. Read the complete post at Making Sense of Darfur.

So that's it regarding updates on the Sudan elections for today.  I'll work on completing my list of links to news articles, commentary, and blog posts about these elections as promised to readers in my previous blog post on the Sudan Elections 2010.  I've edited it down to only 13 pages of "must-read" stuff___ do you think that thirteen pages is a bit too much to go to print, er to go to post?  Bis bald.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Sudan's Elections and the Obama Administration's Strategy for Sudan

Sudan Elections 2010: A Poor Return on U.S. and Western Investments
(Draft Version: Updates to follow)

It is heartwarming to view the many photo essays and videos showing the people of Sudan going to the polls to elect their leaders for the first time in 24 years. I cannot help but be impressed by the hope and determination displayed by the Sudanese people who have decided to exercise their right to choose a government after so many decades of atrocities suffered during a devastating civil war and rule under a brutal and corrupt regime. It reminds me of the historic 2005 presidential and 2006 parliamentary elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo where people walked through the bush for days for the chance to cast their votes after a dictatorship lasting more than 40 years.

But at the same time I also cannot help but wonder why in the world is the government of my country (the USA) and the European Union investing more than USD$ 300 million into elections that are obviously rigged to favor the National Congress Party (NCP) and their presidential candidate Lt. General Omar al Bashir who collectively are responsible for the deaths of more than 2.5 million people (mainly the “black African” tribes of southern Sudan). They are responsible for the largest mass murder (a.k.a. genocide) of innocent civilians since Rwanda (1994), responsible for the rape, pillage, plunder, and internal displacement of more than 5 million people (primarily from southern Sudan, the Nuba mountains, and Darfur) without bothering to pick up the tab in desperately needed financial support and the massive humanitarian assistance necessary to keep Sudanese refugees alive?

Why in the world are the governments of the United States, France, the U.K., Germany, Canada, and other western countries donating taxpayer dollars (and Euros) to an election that will surely keep an indicted war criminal and his cronies in power for another 5 years? The Government of the United States has spent more than USD$ 6 billion in taxpayer dollars for “humanitarian assistance” to Sudan since 2005 making it the largest single donor country. And every time you turn around here is Omar al Bashir on international TV news and in the press threatening western aid workers, threatening western election observers, roughing-up western diplomats, arresting western journalists and throwing them into jail, defying international laws governing war crimes and crimes against humanity, defying international courts and inter-governmental bodies (the ICC at The Hague, the UN). How many times have we seen this despicable despot on the back of a camel or riding in the back of one of his “desert pickups” surrounded by a crowd of his mindless soldiers and political devotees shouting “Death to America, Down with the West!”? And we are sending money to the government of this guy so that he can be elected?

According to officials in the Obama administration the U.S. Government will spend over USD$ 2billion in aid to Sudan for the year 2010 (see USAID Sudan Monthly Update March 2010 newsletter and this October 19, 2009 U.S. State Department background briefing on Sudan). Countries such as China, Malaysia, and the Gulf States have been bankrolling this bloody regime in Khartoum for years. How much money have they donated to these “free and fair democratic elections” in Sudan and how much financial support and humanitarian personnel have they sent to assist the millions of refugees and IDP’s (internally displaced persons) living in abysmal conditions in camps, villages and cities across this vast African country?

No matter how encouraging the images of women and men lining up to cast their votes all across the Sudan, no matter the beauty and strength one sees in the faces of these diverse people who proudly identify themselves as Sudanese, the nightmare images of burned out and bombed villages, the haunting tales of women who have suffered mass rape and witnessed the wanton murder of their men and children at the hands of Omar al Bashir’s Janjaweed militias, air force and national army, keep me from holding out any hope for these sham elections, realizing that they will only bring more of the same outrageous behavior, atrocities, displacement, and conflict that we have witnessed in Sudan under the NCP regime for more than 20 years.

The fact that U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration and other key members of President Obama’s cabinet and administration may give a hint of legitimacy to these elections, reinforced by a possible nod of approval from former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his team of independent election observers, is simply chilling. Before President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton make any public announcements about these elections they need to carefully consider if the millions and billions of taxpayer dollars already spent on bringing peace and good governance to Sudan is yielding positive returns on America’s investment so far. And if the answer is NO, then it is time for “Plan B” of the much heralded Obama Sudan Strategy (OSS) released to the public in October 2009. It may be time to bring out “the big sticks” referred to in the White House Sudan Strategy and bring them out quickly and without mercy against this most dangerous and bloody regime in Africa’s largest country. And while you are at it, see if you can get some of our taxpayer billions $$$ back from these crooks and scoundrels.

In the meantime, my readers may enjoy reading and viewing some of the following articles and editorials on the Sudan Elections 2010. For readers with access to a broadband Internet connection, please check the excellent video podcast at CNN’s Amanpour website featuring discussions with the former U.S. Asst. Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer and the South Sudan Representative to the U.S. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth). Also have a look at the coverage of the Sudan elections by BBC World News anchor Zeinab Badawi (see her exclusive interview with the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir) on BBC News HardTalk program). Last but not least don’t miss Riz Khan’s interview with Ezekiel Lol Gatkouth and former Government of Sudan spokesman Dr. Sayed el-Khatib at Al Jazeera - English.

Amanpour on CNN International (International edition)
Amanpour Blog » Bush official raps Obama on Sudan
Amanpour full length video podcasts at iTunes (Apple iTunes Store)

BBC News Sudan Election Coverage – Zeinab Badawi and HardTalk
Hardtalk - Sudan's Vice-President Salva Kiir boycotts elections
BBC News - World News Today - Sudan election polls are 'a farce'
BBC News - World News Today - The impact of sanctions on Sudan
BBC News - World News Today - The "hungriest place on earth"

Al Jazeera English – The Riz Khan Show
Al Jazeera English - Sudan Elections 2010
Al Jazeera English - RIZ KHAN - Sudan's election crisis
YouTube - Riz Khan on Aljazeera - Sudan's election crisis

Related News Articles, Editorials, Commentary and other Resources
Note to my readers:
A complete and exhaustive list of related articles, editorials, and commentary shall follow via updates to this post over the next few days.

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