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Sudanese opposition threatens to boycott 2010 general elections

Major opposition parties of Sudan have threatened to boycott the 2010 general elections if the current leadership fails to carry out political reforms

CAIRO, October 1 (RIA Novosti) - Major opposition parties of Sudan have threatened to boycott the 2010 general elections if the current leadership fails to carry out political reforms, Arab media have reported.

Some 20 major Sudanese political movements gathered of Wednesday in Juba, the capital of the semi-autonomous South Sudan region, to seek solutions to the country's political crisis. The National Congress Party (NCP), led by President Omar al-Bashir, along with six smaller political parties, boycotted the conference.

In their joint declaration, headlined "The Juba declaration for dialogue and national consensus," the participants demanded "to amend the articles of the interim constitution concerning all democratic freedoms and reforms in Sudan."

"The amendments should be made until November 30 and include an article stipulating the participation of all political forces in the next year's general elections," the statement says.

Under the peace agreement, signed after 21 years of civil war between the northern and the southern regions of Sudan, the southern provinces should abide by the interim constitution until the referendum on independence.

However, according to the statement, the interim constitution "contradicts democratic principles and freedoms and should be amended." The parties say many laws, especially those concerning secret services and individual freedoms, contradict the constitution.

Nationwide parliamentary, presidential and regional elections are due to be held in Sudan in 2010 for the first time since 1986. Authorities say they should mark the end to the political crisis and demonstrate democratic aspirations of the ruling regime. A year later, a referendum will be hold to decide on whether South Sudan should gain full independence.

The leaders, which took part in the conference, also backed the idea that a simple majority, or 50% plus one vote should be required to decide on South Sudan's independence. Bashir's NCP insists on the threshold of 75%.

Juba has repeatedly accused authorities in Khartoum of destabilizing situation in southern regions ahead of the vote.

The participants also demand an end to the conflict in the western province of Darfur and an agreement on contested results of the recent census, according to which electoral constituencies for the 2010 elections are formed.

The civil war that broke out in the western region of Darfur in early 2003 has claimed the lives of more than 300,000, in United Nations estimates, and is feared to grow into a wider regional war. The UN and the African Union are deploying 13,000 troops in the region. Russia has contributed 142 troops to the UN mission and 11 observers, but is considering sending a separate contingent.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for the Sudanese leader on charges of war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur.


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