President Bashir appoints the 9 members of Sudan electoral board

November 25, 2008 (ST)

Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir today has appointed the chairman and the members of the Sudan elections board; which is an independent electoral board which is responsible for the administration, conduct and supervision of national and regional elections in the country.

The move comes after the endorsement by national parliament of the proposed nine members of the National Electoral Commission on November 17, by 298 votes to 12 objections. The formation of the NEC is a first step toward the holding of general elections in 2009.

The presidential decree assigned Abel Alier as chairman and Abdallah Ahmed Abdallah as deputy chairman. The head of the board was former Vice-President during Jaafar Nimeiri era (1971-1981), and belongs to Dinka ethnic group, which dominates political life in the Southern Sudan.

The members of the commission are: Ms Fillister Baya, Ms Mahassin Haj Al-Saffi, James Bol Kajmal, Abdallah Ballah Al-Hardalou, Mohamed Taha Abu Samrah, Mukhtar Al-Asam and Al-Hadi Mohamed Ahmed Hassabou.

The chairman and members of the NEC were sworn in Tuesday at the presidential palace before the President of the Republic, Omer Al-Bashir, and the Chief Justice, Jalal-Eddin Mohamed Osman, in the presence of the First Vice - President, Salva Kiir, and the Vice - President, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement which is signed on January 9 2005 between the Sudanese government of the National Congress Party and the SPLM calls for elections no later than July 2009 as part of a democratic transition in the country.

But observers raise doubts about the organization of the general elections next year. The independent commission is the sole institution that has the authority to fix that date of the elections and to delay it.

In accordance with the electoral law, the elections should be organised to take place six months after the establishment of the NEC.

On July 7, Sudanese MPs passed the National Elections Act of 2008, which lays the basis to run the first fair elections in the country since 1989, when the National Islamic Front seized power in a military coup led by the current president.

The legislators adopted a mixed electoral system. Sixty per cent of the 450 MPs will be chosen through majority vote in their geographical constituencies. Also 25% of the parliamentary seats are guaranteed to women and the remaining 15% of the members are chosen on the basis of proportional representation at the state level from separate and closed party lists.

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