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Rights group decries violations of electoral procedure

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ACJPS Condemns Violations of Electoral Procedure in the First Day of Voting

Contact: Osman Hummaida, Executive Director at
Phone: +44-2032872745
E-mail: osman@acjps.org

(12 April 2010) As the polls closed on the first day of voting in Sudan, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) denounced reported violations of electoral procedure and incidents of irregularities committed by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and officials present at polling centres.

The following violations were documented:

- The NEC reportedly closed the voting centre of constituency number 8 at Albogaah Sabeel Street in Omdurman area, as the name of the National Congress Party’s (NCP) candidate, Mohamed Abd Allah Jah Alnaby, appeared in a total of 3 constituencies – 5, 7, and 8, when he was only a candidate in constituency 8.
- In White Nile State, the NEC closed all voting centres because polling cards printed in Sudan included repeated symbols of candidates. Some voting cards had been printed domestically in a print house in Khartoum owned by the state, after the NEC decided that there was not sufficient time to have the whole of the ballots printed abroad. After the errors in the initial polling cards were rectified and delivered to Kosti by plane at 4 PM, only two hours were left for general polling to occur.
- In Khartoum, voting centre number 5 in constituency 27 at Kanab Ibn Zouhair School, polling only began at 1:00 PM, in clear contravention to the guidelines set forth by the NEC.
- In the Alklakla Alguoba voting centre in Abo Kasawi in geographical constituency number 43, voters were encouraged to vote for a certain candidate and not allowed to vote privately – they were monitored by elections officials as they cast their ballots. Residency certificates were issued to voters as proof of their identities.
- In half of North State, the secret numbers verifying the individuality of ballots were ripped from each separate ballot.
- In Atbara Naher, Elniel State, observers were prevented from entering the voting centre and asked to present a letter from the state electoral commission.
- In Barbar, there was reportedly a mistake in the polling papers in which the symbols of the two candidates Ahmed Suliman and Abobakr, whose symbols are a bicycle and an ear of corn, respectively, were exchanged.
- At Almahas in Aburgieg, the head of the voting centre violated voters’ right to privacy by entering the polling room with voters.
- A voting centre at UmAlhassan was transferred to Aldabba without previous notice. Modawi Abd Alkhalig, the candidate of the Islamic Solidarity Party in Sinar constituency number 2, found that his name and symbol, a teapot, were missing from the ballot papers.
- In the Ausar area in east Sudan, five centres didn’t receive voting materials.
- In the Haya area of East Sudan, 12 representatives of candidates reported that they had been kidnapped by an assistant police officer and that elections on state levels had not yet begun.
- In White Nile State, in Jalabeen constituency, a Sudanese National Party legislative candidate named Najim Aldein Alharith reported that his name and symbol were not included on the ballot papers.
- In Alhaj Yousif, in Helat Koko, in constituency number 32, six voting centres (Alsamier, Alshakha, Um Almoamenien, Allehedin, Alfalah, and Old Haljah Yousif School) were closed because the correct voting materials had not been delivered. Rather, the ballots for another constituency were delivered.

In all, these irregularities showed that the NEC was not well prepared for the elections. Serious flaws in electoral procedure were noted, including in areas that had been problematic during the registration period. These same issues – such as lack of materials and publishing and abiding by the hours of voting centres – remained inconsistent and illusive to local communities. Many centres did not receive the correct materials vital to accurately holding elections, and went without ink, voting cards, and voters’ lists. The particular type of ink used in the ballots printed within Sudan is easily removed, and many candidates found that their names and symbols were not included on ballots. Candidates’ symbols are necessary for a fully inclusive electoral process for illiterate voters. Some centres were delivered voting cards from other constituencies and used those as an alternate.

Though an audit of the voter’s lists following registration was undertaken, the results were never publicised and many political parties and communities have yet to view these lists. Additionally, many centres did not publish a voter’s list, which is public information and was to be displayed at polling centres in accordance with electoral law. Indeed, many voters were unable to find their names on the NCP’s lists, but not the registration list itself – during registration, many NCP representatives had collected the unique receipts of newly registered voters for safekeeping.

Many voters were not afforded the opportunity to inclusively participate, due to lack of materials and manipulation of the operation of voting centres. Entire areas remained marginalised from the process, including vast areas of Darfur which had not been registered due to insecurity and the presence of Sudanese armed security agents in towns and IDP camps. The African Centre has previously called for a postponement of the elections in order to allow them to proceed in conditions that are free and fair. Though it would be possible to blame these procedural violations on the lack of technical experience by Sudan in democratic, international observer missions that could have assisted were intimidated into silence in the preceding period and could not fulfil their mandates. National groups that had been previously accredited were told that they could not participate at the last moment. The elections lack the legitimacy of an open and democratic space for Sudanese to participate and decide on their leadership in a transparent, free, and positively inclusive way. These violations of electoral procedure undermine further the credibility of elections already marred by a litany of violations during registration and the pullout of major opposition candidates.

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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