Sudan (ODM/MNN) — Sudan’s incumbent president Omar Hassan al-Bashir swept to a landslide 94.5% win in Monday’s elections.
Despite the triumphant headlines, it’s also noted that he was running basically unopposed by a field of unknowns. The election was also boycotted by the opposition.
Open Doors USA CEO David Curry says nobody was surprised by the results. “The president, Bashir, has been in control for almost three decades now. So, you go through the motions of an election, but I think most people don’t talk about the election because there wasn’t any sense of suspense as to who was going to win.”
In a press release, Open Doors noted that the African Union (AU) observer mission confirmed last week low voter turnout in the elections, saying it would not exceed 40%. The European Union, United States, Britain, and Norway all criticized the election, saying the lack of a promised national dialogue left Sudan without an inclusive political process.
Regardless of the criticism, the 71-year-old al-Bashir will take the oath of office on June 2. Open Doors documented his rise to power starting in 1989. At that time, he overthrew the elected Prime Minister Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi in a bloodless coup with the help of Hassan al-Turabi, the leader of the National Islamic Front. Following the coup, al-Bashir allied himself with Turabi, and with his backing began implementing Sharia law in Sudan. The overwhelming majority of the population in Sudan is Sunni Muslim, and Sharia law is the foundation of Sudan’s legal system. In 2008, the International Criminal Court accused al-Bashir of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Blasphemy laws are used country-wide to persecute and prosecute followers of Christ. “Christians are still in a very difficult situation, being attacked, losing all that they have. Culturally, they are under pressure, so Sudan is difficult, and it’s because of al-Bashir, in large measure,” says Curry. A case in point: two evangelical pastors are being kept incommunicado in an unknown location by the country’s intelligence service.
During al-Bashir’s administration, the persecution of Christians has been severe enough to earn a #6 ranking on their annual World Watch List, a ranking of the top 50 countries around the world where the persecution of Christians is the worst. According to the WWL, his regime is “authoritarian and wants to control the life of its citizens. Apostasy is criminalized, punishable by the death penalty, and it is very harsh, especially on non-Arabs.”
Plus, adds Curry, “There are just all the forms of cultural persecution there. You have a government that is insensitive to Christians, that doesn’t allow freedom of religious expression; you have them using their resources to separate Christians from the rest of the population.” Specifically, the people in the Nuba mountains have faced indiscriminate bombings in the government’s efforts to root out rebels. A large number of Christians reside in the Nuba area.
Curry says the more people know, the more they’ll have opportunity to respond. He’s asking you to consider advocating by sharing the stories of the Christians in Sudan. Pray that the Lord will strengthen His Church in Sudan to live out the gospel despite the dangers involved. “We’re trying to support the Christian church there in whatever way we can, speaking out for Christians in this part of the world. Be praying for freedom. Pray for your government, always. Pray for your persecutors. Pray that people come to see what’s happening for what it is.”