Another Sudanese political party said Thursday it will boycott presidential and parliamentary elections here next month, calling them a ploy to maintain Islamist rule over the multi-religious nation.
The Union of Sudan African Parties (USAP), a non-separatist group of elite members of southern tribes, urged its supporters and other Sudanese to "boycott these elections and dissociate themselves from their outcome."
In a press release, it accused the government of using the elections to create a situation which "will give the NIF (National Islamic Front) an extended hegemony over power in the country."
The NIF backed the military coup in 1989 that brought President Omar al-Bashir to power, overthrowing the democratically elected prime minister Sadeq al-Mahdi.
Simultaneous legislative and presidential elections are to be held on December 11-20.
USAP said that ending a 17-year civil war -- in which the Islamist-led government here has been fighting rebels representing the mainly Christian and animist south but also northern Muslim opposition groups -- "is a priority that should precede elections."
The government's insistence on holding presidential elections even before Beshir's term ends in April shows "it lacks seriousness about the political reconciliation it claims to champion," USAP said.
It added that it is opposed to partial elections for southern Sudan due to the ongoing war there, saying vacant seats would be filled by "handpicked southern members of the ruling party", the National Congress.
"USAP does not recognise the present constitution and the related political parties act and other laws because, like other political forces, it has not participated in their promulgation and enactment," the press release said.
Boycott calls have also been issued by other opposition groups, such as Mahdi's Umma Party and Hassan al-Turabi's Popular National Congress, and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani.
The DUP is part of the National Democratic Alliance, which groups the northern and southern opposition, while the Popular National Congress broke away from the National Congress amid a power struggle between Turabi and Bashir.
The NDA announced Thursday from Eritrea that its forces had captured Sudan's eastern provincial capital of Kassala, but the government said its forces had driven them out of the city – KHARTOUM (AFP)
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