“The legitimacy of these elections depends on two things: the legal criteria for voter turnout must be 60 percent in order for this to be seen as the legitimate voice of the people, and if not, there must be a runoff; and secondly, these elections must be accepted by the people who participate in them, and will they be able to deal with each other under a new government,” says Fouad Hikmat, a Sudan expert at the International Crisis Group’s office in Nairobi.
“I hope these political forces will ... not allow violence to happen after the results come out,” Mr. Hikmat adds.
Even before polling started on Sunday, 12 of the main opposition parties, including the largest one, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), withdrew their presidential candidates from the elections, citing logistical problems, and a lack of access to state-run media. SPLM voters in Khartoum seemed to have the wind knocked out of them at the announcement of the boycott, since they saw this as their last chance to bring about democratic reform to Sudan, which has lived under a military dictatorship for 22 years.
Infighting within the SPLM confounded the problems, with some SPLM leaders in the north insisting that the boycott was total, and SPLM leaders in the south saying there was no boycott at all, beyond the withdrawal of presidential candidate Yasir Arman.