KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese politicians claimed Barack Obama as one of their own on Saturday as they belatedly celebrated his election as U.S. president, hailing his family roots in their country.
Much has been made of Obama’s father’s origins in Kenya. But he acknowledged his distant Sudanese roots in his autobiography ‘Dreams From My Father’.
“His father came from the Luo (tribe), who are from the Nile. The Luo originally moved from Sudan to Kenya,” said Yasir Arman, a senior member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, former southern rebels who are now in a coalition government with the north.
Hundreds of SPLM supporters crammed into their headquarters for a belated party marking Obama’s victory.
Many held up banners marked ‘New Sudan Yes We Can’ - a message that merged an SPLM slogan with Obama’s rallying cry.
Arman said members were inspired by Obama’s election as the United States’ first black president.
“It is giving a message to our society that Sudan can do the same, that Sudan can recognize its own diversity,” he said.
“We hope he will be able to give more attention to all of Africa, not just Sudan.”
The United States has had a troubled relationship with Sudan’s Khartoum-based government. It has imposed trade sanctions on Khartoum, included it on its list of state sponsors of terrorism, and accused northern troops and militias of committing genocide in the Darfur conflict.
The south has been exempted from most of the sanctions.
The SPLM fought the north for more than 20 years in a conflict that pitted the Islamist Khartoum government against mainly Christian and animist rebels. The war ended with a 2005 peace agreement.
Editing by Angus MacSwan