Sudan repression continues after Omar al-Bashir election win, says rights group 

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April 30,Sudan:The Sudanese government is continuing the crackdown on political opposition and student protests that began in the buildup to the presidential election won by Omar al-Bashir this month, according to a human rights group.Dozens of opposition party members, political activists and students have been beaten and detained, mainly by Sudan’s security services, in a wave of repression that began the day before voting started, advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. The ballot, in which Bashir extended his 26-year rule over the country, has been widely condemned by rights groups and western governments.

On Monday, Bashir was declared the winner of Sudan’s election, which was held from 13 to 15 April. He gained 94.5% of the vote. But an African Union electoral observer mission, led by the former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, said voter turnout was “generally low” throughout the polling period, mostly becauseopposition leaders had called for the ballot to be boycotted.The government has levied criminal charges against opposition figures who urged Sudanese voters to stay away from the poll under the Sudanese Criminal Act of 1991, which carries the death penalty, according to the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS).

Sudanese security services arrested and detained opposition figures with the aim of “restricting the ability of independent groups and activists to voice dissenting political views from those of the ruling party”, the ACJPS said.Mastor Ahmed Mohammed, a member of the Sudanese Congress Party, one of the groups that called for the election to be boycotted, was arrested on Tuesday, HRW said.Sudanese opposition activist Sandra Faroug Kadouda was dragged from her car by security services on 12 April as she made her way to a meeting with other opposition members. “Her car was found 30 minutes later abandoned … with the keys still in the ignition,” ACJPS said. Kadouda was released from prison on 15 April, but the government censored a newspaper article about her detention in the al-Sudani newspaper.

On 14 April, police raided Al Fashir University, using tear gas to disperse students who had gathered to rally against the election. About 29 people were arrested, according to the ACJPS. On 19 April, government security services beat and detained a student leader at Khartoum University, according to HRW. “They beat him with batons for several hours and interrogated him about his links to opposition political parties,” HRW said.Bashir, who has been in power since 1989, faces criminal charges at the international criminal court for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and alleged genocide.The international community denounced violence carried out by the Sudanese government during the election period, saying it marred the credibility of the poll. “The outcome of these elections cannot be considered a credible expression of the will of the Sudanese people,” said a joint statement by Norway, the US and the UK.

Days before the polls took place, the EU’s foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, said: “The upcoming elections cannot produce a credible result with legitimacy throughout the country.”“By saying the elections weren’t free and fair, [western governments] are actually saying the government is no longer legitimate by implication, which is very strong stuff in their terms,” said Gillian Lusk, associate editor of Africa Confidential.The most credible estimate available suggests that about 35% of eligible voters cast ballots, but people in Sudan believe the real number could be half that, Lusk said. Most of the people who voted in the poll are thought to be government employees.

Daniel Bekele, HRW’s Africa director, said: “Instead of allowing people to express their views peacefully, the government is snatching up political activists and beating, torturing, and jailing them, without the slightest pretence of respect for basic rights.”He added: “The best way for the ruling party to celebrate the elections is to end the crackdown on political dissent.”

The Oslo Times

Source: The  article is originally published on theguardian

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