KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday it had summoned the European Union’s representative in Khartoum over critical EU remarks about the country’s political environment ahead of elections next week.
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir looks set to extend his 25 years in power after presidential and parliamentary elections on April 13-15, which leading opposition parties are boycotting.
European Union’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Thursday there was no “conducive environment” for the polls. “The people of Sudan deserve better. We therefore chose not to engage in support of these elections,” the statement said.
It said Sudan had failed to hold a genuine national dialogue to ease conflicts and enable an inclusive political process.
Sudan summoned the head of the European Union office in Khartoum on Friday to complain about Mogherini’s remarks, which the ministry said were “deliberate distortion”, spokesman Ali al-Sadiq said.
An EU official confirmed that a representative from the delegation had been summoned to the ministry. “During the meeting there was an exchange on the EU statement published yesterday,” the official said, without elaborating.
A source with knowledge of the meeting said the envoy was Maria Luisa Troncoso, who attended on behalf of EU ambassador Tomas Ulicny, a source with knowledge of the meeting said. The EU website lists her as head of governance and social affairs at the delegation.
Bashir, who is wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes by the International Criminal Court, had signaled he would step down this year, but his National Congress Party chose him as its candidate in October, all but assuring his success against a fractured and weakened opposition.
Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz in Khartoum; Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Alison Williams