Sudan delays general elections to Feb 2010

April 2, 2009 (ST)

Sudan electoral board decided to delay general elections for more than seven months, decision justified by the needed preparations and some achievement of some crucial outstanding issues.

According to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended Sudan’s decades-long civil war between north and south in 2005, the Presidential, and parliamentary elections on national and state levels are due to be held before July 2009, announcing the end of a transitional period which began in July 2005.

The dominant National Congress Party (NCP) led by President Omer Al-Bashir, in different occasions, repeated its readiness to run the first general election in 24 years. The SPLM also expressed its willingness to run the elections.

However, last November, a UN consultative team of experts advised the semi-autonomous southern Sudan government to postpone the general elections to November 2009 till the end of rainy season in order to avoid the logistical complications.

Abdellah Ahmed Abdellah, deputy chairman of Sudan’s National Electoral Commission, said in press statements that the elections will be organized during next February 2010.

The Sudanese will elect a national president, and a president for the semi-autonomous government in southern Sudan, the federal parliament and south Sudan assembly. The elections also include the states assemblies and governors.

The announced delay was expected by the political parties because the results of the national census are not yet published and, some laws necessary to ensure free and democratic elections are not endorsed by the parliament. The press law is endorsed by the government but not yet voted by the parliament while the peace partners didn’t yet agree on the security law.

Violence in Darfur also impedes the run of free and fair elections.

The Southern Sudan Vice President Riek Machar welcomed the decision but expressed fears that this decision may delay the 2011 referendum on self determination for southern Sudan.

Also a senior official in the NCP, Ibrahim Gandur, welcomed the decision underscoring that the members of the independent elections body did not negotiate the timetable with the ruling party.

The last general election, in April 1986, was won by the Umma party of Sadiq Al-Mahdi, whose government was overthrown in a 1989 coup that brought Al-Bashir to power. In a presidential election boycotted by the opposition and held in December 2000 Bashir secured 86% of votes.


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