By Tim Nanns
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi congratulated Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir on his victory in the elections in a phone call Monday, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported.
The call came shortly after the official results of the Sudanese elections were announced on Monday by the National Elections Commission (NEC), declaring the incumbent the winner by a landslide.
As expected by many observers, President Al-Bashir won the national elections with a steep 94.5% according to the NEC. Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court because of war crime charges, had to face little to no opposition during the elections, with nearly all major opposition parties boycotting the elections.
According to the NEC, more than 5 million citizens voted for Al-Bashir with his closest rival trailing far behind with 79,000 votes. The turnout of far less than 6 million means only around 46% of the registered voters participated in the elections, excluding citizens who are not registered.
The opposition actually running in the election was identified by a leaked African Union (AU) report from March as sympathisers or even “creations” of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP). Despite its own criticism though, the AU decided to send observers to the election, thereby drawing heavy criticism from the opposition for granting credibility to the “forged” elections.
In its report on the elections, the AU only mildly criticised the Sudanese government, stating that the “suppression of human rights […] no doubt constrained and restrained participation in the electoral process”, but mostly keeping a low profile by concluding that “the results of the election would reflect the expression of the will of the voters of Sudan”.
Leading human rights organisation Amnesty International (AI) was much sharper in its criticism on Thursday, with Deputy Regional Director Michelle Kagari stating that “there is a clear and ongoing pattern of violently suppressing dissenting voices”, and AI blaming Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) for several human rights violations, including the alleged abduction and torture of activists and journalists.
A Sudanese national living in Cairo told Daily News Egypt that the victory of Al-Bashir was no surprise since he was expected to win, but with the result of 94.5% being a sign that “this election was obviously even more rigged than the other one”, referring to Al-Bashir winning 68.2% in 2010.
The 2010 election was met by harsh criticism from many observers, including Human Rights Watch, citing “political repression and human rights abuses across Sudan”, which allegedly led, in combination with rigging of the election itself, to the re-election of Al-Bashir.