Khartoum police arrested around 70 opposition members yesterday morning, including three leaders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the ruling party of South Sudan. The arrests were in response to protests calling for electoral and legal reform by the National Assembly. The Sudanese government issued a last minute ban on the opposition rally on Sunday.
The opposition parties’ grievances included the National Assembly’s delay in passing national security and referendum laws. Opposition supporters demonstrated in support of democratic reforms preceding next April’s national elections and the 2011 referendum on south Sudanese independence. Political violence followed the arrest of opposition members, despite First Vice President Salva Kiir’s call for calm among the protesters. Kiir, also the President of South Sudan, condemned the arrests as a violation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the north-south Sudanese civil war.
After his release, Secretary General Amum urged a continuation of SPLM demonstrations until President Omar al-Bashir implements the CPA between north and south Sudan and addresses electoral reform.
The Sudanese government’s detainment of SPLM leaders and opposition supporters prompted urgent responses from the Sudan advocacy community. John Prendergast, the co-founder of the ENOUGH Project, notes the unrealistic expectations of U.S. policy towards Sudan: “It was fanciful of the United States and other donor nations to think that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), which has ruled Sudan with an iron fist and tolerated no peaceful dissent, would suddenly loosen its grip and allow peaceful elections and their necessary precursor: peaceful freedom of assembly.” Bec Hamilton, author of the forthcoming book The Promise of Engagement, suggests that, “we can expect to see more and more incidents like this in the coming weeks.” (Also included in Hamilton’s post is the text of the SPLM’s press statement on the arrests.)
What Can I Do?
Call the White House to express your support for democratic reforms in Sudan and urge President Obama to condemn the Sudanese regime for its imprisonment of political opposition.
Call 202.456.1111 or 202.456.1414
Hi, I’m _______
I’m calling to ask that President Obama publically condemn the actions committed by the Bashir regime and his National Congress Party against the peaceful demonstrators in Sudan earlier today. Now is the time for President Obama to show that he does care about the people of Sudan and their human rights. Now is the time for the administration to call unequivocally for a dramatic change in the political environment in Sudan to allow for free and fair elections in April 2010.
I ask that President Obama turn his words into action. He recently described America as a nation that will “speak out on behalf of human rights” and “tend to the light of freedom” – this is on his watch now.
If you have any questions about ways to get involved, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow @iSTANDsudan on Twitter for updates!
Photo credit: AFP