Sudan’s presidential and parliamentary elections take place as opposition figures rot in jail and the government’s campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ makes it dangerous, if not impossible, for millions to vote. Newspapers are routinely confiscated and peaceful protest is crushed with unhesitating brutality. Respectable international election-monitoring organisations are unlikely to be present, because few conditions for a credible election exist. Nevertheless, after the 13-15 April poll, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) will claim to have a legitimate mandate. The result will be recognised by Sudan’s supporters within the Arab League and the African Union (AU) and by its business and military partners, such as Iran, China and Russia. Officials in the US, the UK and the EU will likely wait until afterwards to express any doubts about its validity, ostensibly because they do not wish to damage the unlikely possibility that there might be a meaningful national dialogue about the future of Sudan—their concerns will attract little attention.
The international community supported Sudan’s 2010 election with generous financial contributions, voter-education programmes and expensive monitoring missions. It gave the ruling NCP the benefit of the doubt, ignoring the wider context of the poll.
That context has been thoroughly documented over the years by groups like Freedom House, which awarded the Islamist regime the lowest ranking. Transparency International considers Sudan the third most corrupt nation, adding weight to doubts about the independence of its national election commission and polling officials.