The upcoming elections in Sudan are no doubt going to be both exciting and messy. Exciting because for the first time in over 20years, Sudanese people will participate in a democratic elections. (the last time they voted for a civilian president in 1986, he was later deposed in a coup by Omar Bashir 3 years later). They will be messy due to the logistical nightmare involved especially in the South. Add to this the fact that Southerners will be voting in 12 elections (president of Sudan, VP of Sudan, pres of GOSS, VP of GOSS, MP for Khartoum assembly, MP for Juba assembly, State governor, MP for State Assembly, County Commissioner, Payam administrator, Boma administrator …. and i forget the other one!) The ballot may have a list of over 1,000 names for one topick from! As if thats not bad enough, over 70% of the electorate can’t read. Oh, and lets not forget the inaccessibility of many polling centers in the South…
Houston, we have a problem!

Prospects of SPLM’s Yasir Arman:

Yasir Arman, SPLM presidential candidate

I think it was pretty smart of SPLM to nominate Yasir Arman to run for Sudan presidency as opposed to Salva Kiir. two reasons: one, it allows Kiir to do his CPA obligations especially in this pre-referendum period without putting him on a collision course with Omar Bashir. Two, it underlines the impotrance of referendum, NOT elections,  to the Southerners.
And so, the SPLM decided not to bring out the big gun for this aprticular battle. I don’t think SPLM is betting on an Arman win over Bashir.
But, what if he wins? First, can he? Consider: Arman will get a good share of the presidential vote from the South. In the North, Bashir and his NIF/NCP outfit are not exactly the darling of the Northern states. In fact, the parties with the most following are UMMA party (Sadiq Al-Mahdi, the guy Bashir ousted) and Democratic Unionist Party. So, Bashir’s expected landslide in North won’t be possible. That leaves us with Darfur. Bashir needs a landslide from this region. (you see why he doesn’t want to agree to postpone Darfur elections like JEM are asking?). If all goes according to his plan, he’ll get his “landslaide” from Darfur.
If not, we are looking at the following scenario: Bashir wins but not with the 50% plus one vote. We go into round two. If the Northern opposition parties form a coalition (and they could, they have been holding a series of meetings, beginning with the Juba conference last year) and nominate Arman (because he has wider electorate), ARMAN COULD JUST BEAT BASHIR!

If Arman won,
1. would Bashir relignuish power. (of course no, because ICC is waiting in the wings) wins,

2. would the South still vote for separation in 2011 referendum?

3. what direction would the Darfur conflict take, bearing in mind that Bashir and JEM (one of the largest rebel group) has now signed a framework agreement for peace after a promise for perks in Bashir’s NCP govt? would JEM cooperate or work with the defeated Bashir forces to make Darfur ungovernable?

P.S. Yasir Amarn is NOT a political novice fished out of nowhere by SPLM. He is a political bigwig in his own right and has been in the liberation war alongside Late John Garang. Read his impressive profile here. He is Muslim and he holds to Garang’s vision of one united New Sudan, not separatist like his Southern colleagues (a la Pagan Amum)