Home | News    Sunday 28 August 2011

Rift Valley report criticises international endorsement of S. Kordofan’s elections

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By Toby Collins

August 27, 2011 (LONDON) – A report released this month by the UK-based Rift Valley Institute is highly critical of the endorsement given to the crucial South Kordofan gubernatorial elections suggesting that the results "may have been manipulated".

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FILE - National Congress Party candidate for governor, Ahmed Haroun, shows off the marking on his finger after voting at the polling center in Kadugli in the South Kordofan state, May 2, 2011. Haroun is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Sudan’s western Darfur region (Reuters)

The vote held last May was particularly crucial as there are clear links between its outcome and the genesis of the conflict which began shortly after the results were announced.

Even though the oil-rich state is part of North Sudan, many of the state’s residents fought in the civil war with the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA), the political wing of which now rules the newly established nation of South Sudan.

Aly Verjee, the author of the report and former Deputy Director of the Carter Center’s elections observation mission in Sudan in the run up to the 2010 national elections, argues that negotiating a settlement in South Kordofan is contingent upon acknowledgement of the “problematic aspects” of the gubernatorial election there.

Verjee is critical of what he believes was observers’ failure to learn from Sudan’s past electoral history, especially in the context of such a hotly disputed election, won by such a small margin.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) announced the disputed gubernatorial election was won by the National Congress Party’s candidate, Ahmed Haroun, who has suspended the Popular Consultation process in South Kordofan.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Haroun in 2007 for war crimes and crimes against humanity when he managed the Darfur Security Desk as Minister of Interior.

The published results show Haroun to have 46.08 percent of the vote and the SPLM candidate, Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu with 44.60 percent. With such a narrow margin, as Verjee notes, “the magnitude of otherwise marginal problems is increased”.

Last May’s election result were swiftly endorsed by the Carter Center which described the vote as “generally peaceful and credible”.

Verjee surmises that if there were irregularities in one percent of the ballots cast, the outcome of the vote could have been different.

According to the report, not only did the Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections note multiple instances of malpractice in the vote, the Carter Center itself observed that in 58 percent of polling stations “staff failed to check voters’ hands for ink before allowing them to vote”; this could result in individuals voting more than once.

Verjee speculates that “the observers deemed that the malpractice was attempted equally by NCP [National Congress Party] and SPLM supporters, or that such manipulation favoured the defeated SPLM”, but notes that this cannot be established statistically, describing it as “erroneous” to suggest that systemic malpractice is beyond reproach.

Suggestive of malpractice, notes the report, is the concentration of spoiled ballots in areas where another gubernatorial candidate, Telefon Kuku, received a significant proportion of the vote, such as in his home area of Boram (Northern Al Boram Southern Al Boram constituencies) where he gained more than five percent of the vote. At 16 percent, the proportion of the ballots spoiled was twice the state average in these areas.

Telefon Kuku contested the election despite being held in custody in South Sudan’s capital Juba.

Running concurrently with the gubernatorial vote in the state were the political party elections and women’s list ballots. The report notes that the SPLM beat the NCP in both these votes by 2 percent. Verjee describes it as “odd” that that the SPLM did not gain much more than a thousand votes in the gubernatorial contest over its best performance in the women’s list proportional race (from 193,891 to 194,955) whereas by comparison the NCP was able to pick up about 15,000 more votes (from 186,422 to 201,455).

Verjee’s report finds “serious deficiencies” in the observers’ approach, which has failed to build confidence in the electoral process and notes that comparison of the gubernatorial elections and the two proportional representation votes reveals incongruities “that suggest the gubernatorial result may have been manipulated.”

Aggrieved parities could have pursued a legal solution to the alleged malpractice in the vote, but as Verjee points out, the Carter Center’s conclusions on the inadequacies of the legal complaint process “confirmed the futility of such an exercise”.

Tensions have flared in the state after South Sudan seceded last month, taking with it 75% of Sudan’s oil.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled since fighting broke out there in early June between Sudan’s army and SPLA fighters, many of them from South Kordofan’s ethnic Nuba group.

A 12-page report by the UN human rights office this month documented alleged violations in the state capital Kadugli and the surrounding Nuba mountains including extrajudicial killings, illegal detention, enforced disappearances, attacks against civilians, looting of homes and mass displacement.

The allegations, "if substantiated, could amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes", say the UN.

Most of the reported violations were blamed on Sudan’s army and its allied militias but the SPLA also reportedly mined parts of Kadugli, it said.

(ST)

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  • 28 August 2011 09:21, by mohammed ali

    So this Rift Valey institute discovered after so many months from London that the observers , who were there on the ground, were wrong, just simply like that! It is just rediculous.

    These " institutes" work just like the pay phone, they speak only the language of their funder.The language itself appears so silly and stupid when you show prejudice and bias.

    The Carter center and other observers stated clearly that the vast majority of irregularties were commited by the SPLA, yet the so called "institute" wants to hold this against the NCP. It is just silly! At least in the era of human right "respect" they should respect, at least, our brains!

    repondre message

    • 28 August 2011 14:32, by BATNA

      I think, this is a true report but where was this institute? we understood very well that, those international observers were scared by Al-Bashir’s words, as I quote "anyone who come to my country with open mouth,I will punch him/her". it was a clear message to all and as a result, his word has taken many live away, in which we may not see them anymore but I regret to mention people like Ali who is still young and seem to follow the footstep of Bashir.

      man, you need to change your intellectual mind and praise those who can able to analysis the problem because they want let people follow the right leader not criminal leader who kill his own people and create insecurity in the whole country. Therefore, with no surprise, the government in Khartoum is doing opposite until one day, people will such Albashir in Tunnels dead or alive.

      repondre message

  • 28 August 2011 11:56, by Manyieldit

    This is a total confusion, same carter center endorsed the election results in May/June which cause the total lost of lives in Kordofan till now they again telling us that the election fall short of credibility. The reporter must be held responsible to the live been lost as a results of Carter Center endorsement of election

    repondre message

    • 28 August 2011 17:36, by DeltaBravo

      Never put your trust on ARAB and WHITE in this WORLD man my brother. They are the worst humanbeing in this WORLD. If i meet the snake and both group i better let the snake go and kill them all.

      repondre message

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