Today's vivid protests and arrests of senior SPLM politicians by Khartoum police clearly demonstrate that the U.S. should not be financing Sudan's electoral charade unless the laws are amended to allow for the basic requirements of a credible election.
It was fanciful of the United States and other donor nations to think that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), which has ruled Sudan with an iron fist and tolerated no peaceful dissent, would suddenly loosen its grip and allow peaceful elections and their necessary precursor: peaceful freedom of assembly.
As I testified last week before the Africa and Global Health Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
Until the parties agree to conditions that will allow a credible election, the United States and broader international community should suspend all electoral assistance. Non-credible elections should not be financed and legitimized by American taxpayers. The parties should agree to delay the election until these CPA-mandated conditions exist, because the U.S. and international community should not recognize any election that does not meet basic standards.
President Obama should recognize that any benchmarks-based policy of incentives and pressures will have no credibility unless consequences are imposed immediately when such an obvious benchmark like today's denial of a basic element of the existing North-South peace deal -- freedom of assembly for the elections -- has been violated.
Read Enough's latest report on Sudan, What To Do About Sudan Now.
John Prendergast is Co-Founder of Enough, the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.