Article 216 of the Interim Constitution states that presidential, parliamentary, and gubnatorial, and state legislative elections are all to be held before the end of the fourth year of the transitional period, that is, no later than July 5, 2009. Seats in parliament and state legislatures are meanwhile allocated by power sharing formulae based on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The first presidential and parliamentary elections since the 1989 military coup took place in 1996, solidifying Sudan’s return to civilian and democratic rule. Elections were subsequently held in 2000, but new ones were postponed until 2009. The latest presidential and parliamentary elections took place on 11 April 2010.
Election Laws, Systems and Processes
The committee in charge of writing the Sudanese transitional constitution decided on May 16, 2005 that local, legislative and presidential elections in Sudan will take place in 2009, and that a referendum in Southern Sudan will be held before the end of 2010 so that southerners choose between unity with Northern Sudan or secession and independence. The Constitution of 1998 defined the parameters for elections. The head of the executive branch of Sudan is an elected president. The president serves a five-year term and can be re-elected only once. Candidates for the presidency must be Sudanese nationals over the age of 40. In the presidential elections, all voters have the right to nominate a candidate. The candidate receiving a majority of the votes is declared the winner. In the event that no single candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote, a run-off election between the candidates with the two highest vote shares takes place. The election law passed by parliament on July 6, 2008, provides for two election systems: free direct elections in geographical electoral districts (60% of parliamentary seats) and proportional representation (40% of seats). The law stipulates that women should occupy 25% of the parliament membership through separate electoral lists. It also requires any candidate to receive at least 4% of total votes. It requires candidates for the position of governors to receive the nomination of 5000 voters at the local level. Presidential candidates must be nominated by 15,000 voters from 18 provinces out of Sudan's 25 provinces.
The legislative branch of the Sudanese government is composed of a bicameral national legislature consisting of the National Assembly (Al Majlis al-Watani) and the Council of States. The National Assembly is composed of 450 members. During the transition, the president appoints them in consultation with the first vice president. Article 117 of the Constitution prescribes the following allocation of seats: National Congress Party: 52% (49% northerners, 3% southerners), Sudan People’s Liberation Movement: 28% (21% southerners and 7% northerners), other (opposition) northern forces: 14%, and other southerners: 6%.
Article 40 of the interim Sudanese Constitution guarantees the right of political association. This right is further enshrined in the Political Parties and Organizations Bill of 2000. Article 141 of the Constitution mandates the creation of a seven to nine-man National Election Commission to be appointed by the president in consultation with his vice presidents. The Commission is to supervise all elections and referenda in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The right to vote in both the presidential and parliamentary elections is given to all adult Sudanese nationals.
Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, formerly head of Sudan’s Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation, was elected president in 1996 with approximately 75 percent of the vote, while forty other contestants received the remaining 25 percent. In the 1996 legislative elections, political parties were not allowed to participate, although there are reports that the majority of the members elected were affiliated to Islamist groups. The main opposition parties boycotted the elections, which had a voter turnout of close to 55 percent. The president dissolved the National Assembly in 1999 following a political tussle with the speaker of the National Assembly, his one-time ally, Hassan El-Turabi. Presidential and parliamentary elections were again held in December 2000. Bashir faced four other candidates and was again re-elected with 86.5 percent of the votes. Official government sources listed voter turnout at 86 percent.
The latest presidential elections in Sudan took place on 11 April, 2010. The provisions of Article 47 of the National Elections Law of 2008 sets to conditions for candidates to the position of President. Accordingly, 12 candidates were approved, but prior to balloting day 4 candidates pulled out of the Presidential race, namely: Yasser Araman from the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Sudan; Assadek Al-Mahdi - leader of Al-Umma (the Nation) Party; Mubarak Al-Fadl Al-Mahdi – leader of the Reform and Renewal Party; and Mohammad Ibrahim Nuqd – Leader of the Communist Party.
Detailed results of the presidential elections announced by the National Elections Commission confirmed the victory of Omar Al-Basheer who received 6,901,694 votes pr 68.24% of total votes.
Election results for the position of head of the government of Southern Sudan confirmed the victory of Silva Keer Miardeet who received 2,616,613 votes 92.99% of total votes. His only contester, Lam Akol Ajeween, who belongs to the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Sudan-Democratic Change, received 197,217 votes or 7.01% of the vote.
Sudan’s presidential elections were monitored by 20,287 observers representing 18 organizations, states and diplomatic missions. Most prominent of these are: Carter Centre (132 observers), the European Union (166 observers) and the Center for Analyzing European Policy (50 observers). In addition, there were regional monitoring missions such as the African Union, the Arab League and the Islamic Conference. Moreover, countries like Egypt, Japan, Russia, China and Turkey had sent special delegations to observe the elections. The National Elections Commission had approved 232 local and international organizations as elections observers.
The latest legislative elections in Sudan were held on 11 April 2010. The elections were contested by 14,000 independent and politically affiliated candidates who competed for the 2000 executive and legislative vacant positions. A number of candidates from the National Assembly, the Legislative Council of Southern Sudan and the Provincial Legislative Councils were unopposed.
Major political opposition parties refused to participate in these elections and took a stance consistent with their stance in the legislative elections of 1996 and 2000.
In the December 2000 legislative elections, President Bashir’s National Congress Party swept the majority of the seats being contested. In these elections, as in 1996, the major opposition parties refused to participate. The National Congress captured 355 of 360 seats with 35 percent of its candidates standing unopposed. Independent candidates won the remaining five. President Bashir appointed representatives for 24 of the 270 geographical constituencies, where elections could not be held due to the civil war. Both the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Arab League sent election monitors to Sudan.
Until elections can be held the president appoints the members of the Council of State and the governors in consultation with the vice presidents. Article 184 of the Interim Constitution allocates the seats in the state legislatures as follows: 70 per cent of the seats in the northern state legislatures are reserved for the government’s National Congress Party and 70 per cent of the southern seats for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. Each of these parties acquires an additional 10 per cent of the seats in the other legislatures, while other political forces are allocated 20 per cent.