Saturday, February 13, 2010

Darfur Refugees Say to Boycott Sudan Elections

ABU SHOUK CAMP, Sudan (Reuters) - Nureldin Khalil sits back in the tea shack in Darfur's Abu Shouk refugee camp and shrugs. "Why should I vote? ... No one is speaking the truth in these elections. Everything is a lie."

There are nods and grunts of approval from friends around him, a small sample of what camp residents say are thousands of displaced Darfuris who are boycotting looming elections despite official reports of long queues at voter registration centres.

Sudan is preparing for what could be its first fully multiparty presidential and legislative elections in almost a quarter of a century, now just two months away in April.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has promised the ballot will cover the whole country, including Darfur, in a bid, analysts say, to legitimise his rule in the face of war crimes charges from the International Criminal Court.

Opposition groups have said the poll is bound to be a farce in Darfur, seven years into a conflict where sporadic fighting continues to drive families from their homes and state security keeps a tight grip on the main population centres.

Residents of heavily politicised Abu Shouk, many of whom say they fled attacks by government militias as far back as 2003, say most people in the camp have decided to duck out of the process altogether by refusing to register as voters.

"The people who attacked us in our villages are the same people who came to register us for the elections," said tribal leader Umda Adam Khatar, sitting in his house roofed with USAID sacking.

"I am going to stay in my house. No one will count my name." Read more >>>>>

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