KHARTOUM (SUDANOW)—The funding of the election campaign for both political parties and independent candidates may cause a new complication and confusion of this year's election which has incited acute controversy and political dispute.
The National Election Commission (NEC) is in need of around 800 million Sudanese pounds to finance next April's presidential and national and state legislative elections in which, according to the NEC, 13.3 million eligible voters will elect a president and deputies for the national assembly and legislative councils of the states for running the Sudan's affairs over the next five years.
While numerous opposition political parties are opposed to holding elections at this time and demand formation of a transitional government to oversee amendments of the Constitution and the laws and organize elections, the NEC, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and a number of parties allied with the NCP insist on holding the elections on schedule.
Most of the 29 political parties which will take part in the elections are either newly formed or factions which split from big historic parties and are broke and suffer from poor financial, physical and human resources with which they can carry out appropriate electoral campaigning for their candidates.
Apart from a few political parties with resources and political experience, about 20 new parties do not possess any amount of money that can be reckoned.
Article 67 of the NEC Law provides that all candidates must finance their campaigns by themselves from the money they obtain from the members of the party, the financial contributions to the candidates or from any other Sudanese sources approved by the NEC.
The Law bans utilization of the state's possibilities or general financial or human resources by the parties and candidates, except the media.
Although the NEC Law provides for the likelihood of financing the electoral campaigns by the financial contributions offered by the national and state governments, sources in the Ministry of Finance said the Ministry would finance the election process rather than the campaigns of the parties and candidates.
Abdulla Ali Masar, the chairman of the National (watani) Umma Party and candidate of Al-Daen geographic constituency ( west Sudan), said his party participates in the elections to win, rather than just to show off and will strive to reach this goal by using its own resources so long as the state is not going to fund the parties.
He said there are numerous financially weak parties which cannot do the campaigning, suggesting for the state to offer the parties equal funds to enable them to have equal chances of campaigning.
Abdul Gadir Khorshid, member of the (NCP), the richest and most powerful party, said they have no problem and the party will finance by 100% the campaigns of all of its candidates of the three levels of the elections from the party's own resources. The NCP has formed a mechanism for collecting subscriptions and donations from the individual NCP members, Khorshid said.
However, it seems quite different for the Federal Truth Party (FTP) as Fadul Al-Sid Shuaib, the Party Chairman and presidential candidate, said each one of the FTP candidates has undertaken to finance his campaign by himself. Yet, he called upon all Sudanese for contribution and asked the Presidency to contribute to the campaigning costs.
Al-Aghbash Mustafa, Secretary-General of the United (mutahid) Umma Party and its candidate in the constituency of the Legislative Council of West Kordofan State, said his party would finance the campaigns of all of its candidates from the party's self-generated resources comprising the subscriptions and donations of the members of the party. However, he said they have not yet determined the cost and budget of the campaigns.
Dr. Fatimah Abdul Mahmoud, leader of the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) and presidential candidate, said her party is poor and for this reason she would sell out all of the property she had inherited to finance her participation in the process of the peaceful democratic devolution of power and to achieve a victory for the Sudanese woman by asserting her legal right to stand for the presidency. She noted that there are others who are poorer than her party and who have nothing other than their mobile cells.
For his part, the NEC Secretary-General, Jalal Mohamed Ahmed, said the NEC would finance the technical election operations, rather than the campaigns of the candidates as stipulated in the Law. The parties and candidates have to finance their campaigns from their own resources in accordance with the provisions of the Law, Ahmed said. Finding funds is part of the competition and shows the candidates who are serious and capable of winning the elections for future participation in politics, he added.
Jalal, however, said the NEC would set a ceiling for spending by the parties and individual candidates on their campaigns so that the well-off will not gain the upper-hand over other candidates and so as to ensure fairness in the political activity and to elect candidates according to their personal attributes rather than their fortunes.
There are several factors for setting ceilings for spending on the electoral campaigns, the most important of which are the geographic size of the constituency, the number of its population, access to the demographic gatherings and the means of communication and transport.
Salem al-Safi, of the Ministry of Finance, pointed out that the Ministry has no funds in the 2015 budget for financing the electoral campaigns of the parties and independent candidates. The appropriation set in the budget is only for financing the NEC technical operations, he said, adding, however, other options may be taken if changes in the present situation have occurred.
Safi advised the parties to look for what assists them for political participation from private, rather than public resources if they are serious enough for taking part in the public action.
It seems that the international community will not contribute to financing the elections technically like what it had done in the previous 2010 elections to which it contributed by 40% of the cost, because those elections were linked with secession of the South and creation of a new state there in accordance with the CPA.
The European Union Delegation in Sudan indicated that it had not carried out any discussion about financing the forthcoming April 2015 elections.
Election laws in numerous countries permit government funding of campaigns of the formal candidates whose names are published in the Gazette. Those countries, which include France, England, Germany and Switzerland, place strict rules for such funding, even stricter in the presidential elections which stipulate that such a candidate must earn 5% of the votes in the first round, like in France.
Those rules include restrictions on raising the funds, their volume and spending avenues and the volume and terms of the governmental funding obtained by any candidate and the spending ceiling. There are mechanisms for supervising the election committee to guarantee transparent observance of the rules and impose deterrent punishments against any candidate or party that violates those rules.
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