Sudan SPLM hints at withdrawing Kiir’s candidacy for presidential elections

August 23, 2008 (ST)

The Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) left the door open for withdrawing the candidacy of chairman Salva Kiir in the next presidential elections.

Luka Biong, the minister of presidential affairs in the southern Sudan government, told the pro-SPLM Ajras Al-Huriya newspaper that the political bureau “did not decide yet if Kiir would be the candidate for the SPLM or no”.

Biong made the remarks after an SPLM delegation meeting with US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Jendayi Frazer in Washington today.

The unexpected statements come a month after the SPLM political bureau announced in Juba that Kiir would run for president in the upcoming 2009 elections.

“The SPLM has officially decided to contest the elections on all levels including the president’s position” Yasir Arman, SPLM Deputy Secretary General for northern told Reuters at the time.

He said Kiir would be nominated for the presidency.

“All the indications show very clearly that the SPLM is going to be a leading force and will definitely win the elections” he added.

The candidacy drew uneasy reaction from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) who saw a connection with the International Criminal Court (ICC) move to indict President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.

The ICC’s prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges: three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder.

Sudan’s presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Al-Deen told the pro-government Al-Intibaha last week that the ICC indictment is targeting the NCP in light of the next elections.

“Ocampo’s case will not be the last and it is specifically targeting the NCP and its candidate for presidential elections which created an additional factor in the next elections” Al-Deen said in the interview.

“We cannot read the announcement by the SPLM to nominate Kiir for presidential elections separate from these developments” he added.

Sudan presidential adviser Nafi Ali Nafi also said in press statements that Al-Bashir “is the most qualified person for presidency whether people like it or not”.

Biong said they discussed with Frazer the US support to the next elections and monitoring the process. He further said that both sides tackled the Darfur crisis and efforts to unify the rebel factions.

The SPLM delegation which arrived in the US to take part in the conventions of the Republicans and Democratic parties also include Dr. Shrilo Itang adviser for SPLM chairman, SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum and his deputies for northern Sudan Yasir Arman and Dr. Ann Ito for Southern Sudan.

The SPLM official said another meeting took place with the Assistant Defense Secretary to discuss military aid by Washington to modernize the SPLA “in the post-war period”.

The issue of the ICC also came up during a third meeting with Bobby Pittman Special Assistant to the US President for African Affairs.

Biong said that the delegation discussed ways the US can help in resolving the ICC row “while bearing in mind Washington’s position” on the court.


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