Northern Sudan’s sole oil-producing state, Southern Kordofan, started voting today in elections for governor and the state legislature after a campaign marred by violence.
Southern Kordofan, where the Nuba Mountains are located, was the scene of heavy fighting during the two-decade civil war between the northern and southern regions that ended with a peace agreement in 2005.
The contest threatens to fuel tensions between the two regions before Southern Sudan’s scheduled independence in July, according to Fouad Hikmat, Brussels-based International Crisis Group’s special adviser on Sudan. Under the peace accord, Southern Kordofan will remain part of the north.
“It’s a pivotal state, and elections in Southern Kordofan are important for the stability of the whole of Sudan and the completion of the implementation of the peace agreement,” Hikmat said today by phone from Nairobi, Kenya’s capital.
Ahmed Haroun, the current governor and the candidate of President Umar al-Bashir’s National Congress Party, is wanted by the International Criminal Court over allegations that he was responsible for war crimes in the western region of Darfur.
He’s running against deputy governor Abdel-Aziz Adam Al- Hilu, of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, Southern Sudan’s governing party.
“Results will be a problem either way,” Hikmat said. “If Haroun wins, a lot of people will wonder how, as he is not from the region and he is not accepted by most people. Although al- Hilu does not represent all the tribes, he has a bigger chance. But how will the National Congress Party accept that their candidate loses in the election?”