KHARTOUM, SUDAN—In what is being hailed as a major step toward making presidential contests more fair and equal, the Sudanese legislature approved sweeping campaign-finance reform Monday, passing a bill limiting all candidates to 500,000 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition.
"It is not fair that certain individuals vying for the presidency should hold a large advantage over others," said Sen. Nyala Uwayi (L-Atbara), co-sponsor of the Khandaq-Uwayi Campaign Finance Act. "Why should I have a better shot at becoming president just because I have twice as many AK-47 Kalishnikov assault rifles as my opponent? In a fair system, everyone should have the same chance to seize power."
In addition to restricting ammunition, the Khandaq-Uwayi Campaign Finance Act sets strict caps on private contributions from desert warlords, limiting donations to three Light Anti-Tank Weapons or one Optical Wire-Guided Anti-Aircraft Missile per warlord. Under the new law, candidates who accept more than the allotted weaponry will be subject to fines and/or beheading.
The act also prohibits incumbents from courting influential lobbyists with special favors and gifts. This provision comes in response to last month's revelation that in 1996, president Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir accepted a T-72 Main Battle Tank from the powerful southern warlord Kafia al-Nahud in exchange for an overnight stay in the presidential harem. The tank would later play a key role in al-Bashir's successful defense against attacks from presidential challenger Talawdi Waw of the Sudanese People's Liberation Party.
"This sort of campaign-finance reform was long overdue here in the Sudan," Sen. Abache Bor (K-Nasir) said. "Obviously, it's important that a candidate be well-armed, but that shouldn't be the sole determining factor in a fight for public office. A presidential contest should be about more than who has the biggest war chest."