SPLM pulls out of South Kordofan vote body as foreign observers urge calm

10 May, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) on Tuesday announced its withdrawal from the committee handling aggregation of South Kordofan’s elections results, citing claims of spotting a “bogus” polling site amid appeals for calm by foreign observers.

Results of South Kordofan’s gubernatorial and legislative election were due to be announced on Tuesday, 10 May, but disagreements over how many committees should handle results aggregation suspended vote-counting. The deadlock was broken after a delegation from the Khartoum-based National elections Commission (NEC), which oversees the exercise, arrived in the state and brokered an agreement to assign three committees comprising party agents and observers to review results of all polling stations.

NEC officials said that the three committees would be able to finish vote aggregation within three or four days after which the results would be announced.

“These committees have the power to make any corrections to the forms if they are filled out wrong. Then they go to the data center where they are added onto the central software and tabulated,” a source privy to the situation told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

But the situation has been complicated again when the SPLM, which controls the soon-to-be independent state of South Sudan but also maintains a base in north Sudan, announced on Tuesday the withdrawal of its representatives from the results-aggregation committees.

The SPLM’s spokesman in South Kordofan Mohamdeen Ibarhim told the pro-government satellite TV channel Al-Shoroug TV that the SLM had discovered “a bogus polling station” in Kaddam constituency at Laqawa locality in the state’s western sector. Mohamdeen said that the center was unknown to NEC and political forces. Moreover, he added, the center had no party agents or observers. The SPLM’s spokesmen claimed they had seized five filled ballot boxes at the polling center.

He added that the SPLM had asked for a probe into the “bogus center” but the committee referred the matter to NEC which in turn responded by saying it can’t cancel that particular station.

SPLM’s spokesman Mohamdain further accused the geographical constituency official of creating an unknown center using an electoral register belonging to the year 2010 and not 2011 as required.

The SPLM’s chairman in South Kordofan, Qamar Dalman, told reporters on Tuesday the SPLM had decided to suspend participation in the process of vote-aggregation until the arrival of NEC representatives or a decision is made on the objections raised by the group.

In response, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in north Sudan issued a press statement on Tuesday, accusing the SPLM of looking for an excuse to scuttle the elections.

“SPLM’s behavior shows it is not interested in finishing the job and unable to see any results that would not bring it to the seats of power,” the NCP statement said.

The NCP further called on the SPLM to be “responsible and abandon the childish mentality in political affairs.”

The party, whose candidate Ahmad Harun is contesting in gubernatorial elections against the SPLM’s candidate Abudul Aziz Al-Hilu, called on the committee to continue its work, saying it refuse to hold the electoral process hostage to the will of one party.

Meanwhile, the only international mission monitoring the vote has urged the contesting parties and their candidates to observe calm.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, the US-based Carter Center urged “contesting parties and candidates to continue to observe the results aggregation peacefully, to ask their supporters to remain calm and to seek recourse to potential electoral disputes through established legal channels.”

The Carter Center said that the vote-aggregation process was “being closely watched by the agents of the contesting parties and candidates and must be allowed to be completed before results are announced.”

Southern Kordofan, the site of oilfields and important civil war battlegrounds on the undefined north-south border, is key to Khartoum because it neighbors Darfur and the disputed oil-producing border region of Abyei border, another possible flashpoint between both sides in the build-up to the South’s secession.

The vote in South Kordofan, which was delayed from a year ago over a census disagreement, was largely peaceful but analysts fear an outbreak of violence when results are announced.


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