April 20, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudan National Elections Commission (NEC) today dismissed a widely circulated video showing its staff filling out the ballots and putting inside the boxes fueling opposition accusations of vote rigging during the polling period that concluded last Thursday.
"This [video] is fabricated. We cannot investigate everything that is on the internet," Al-Hadi Mohammed Ahmed, head of the technical committee at the NEC told reporters in Khartoum.
Several heavyweight opposition groups boycotted the elections and even those who participated announced later they will not recognize its results alleging fraud and vote rigging.
The video posted on YouTube website showed around seven NEC workers along with a child, apparently in an East Sudan polling station, filling out the voting slips and stuffing it into the boxes. The information attached to the video stated that it was recorded in the Red Sea state, constituency 4 in Hamashkoreib region.
The electoral staff was wearing the official orange-colored on top of traditional eastern Sudanese clothes with the semi-transparent sealed ballot boxes on the floor.
The sound quality of the video was poor but one voice is heard expressing relief that the voting period has been extended "so we can finish our work".
The authenticity of the video could not be verified independently.
Opposition parties said the video is the solid proof on the extent of vote rigging by the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).
"This video is proving everything we said that the elections are rigged and they rigged the boxes," Sideeg Yousuf, an official from the Sudan Communist Party (SCP) told Reuters.
International election observers from the Carter Center and the European Union (EU) said last weekend that the polls had failed to reach international standards but that nonetheless they should be recognized.
Early results from the election, suggest President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his National Congress Party (NCP) are headed for a landslide victory. Bashir is seeking reelection to gain legitimacy in face of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant issued for him on charges of war crimes in Darfur.
Yesterday the US said that the elections were not free or fair and did not meet international standards but described it as a "very important step".
The parties which participated in the polls said people who were sure they had voted could not find their votes in the polling stations during the counting.
Ahmed Haroun, who was running for Khartoum’s state assembly, told Reuters that he and his brother voted in one center together. But when the counting was done, there was only one vote and it was spoiled as both his symbol and that of the ruling party were ticked. So he got no votes.
"Forget my brother and the 400-member team working with me in the area - that should have been my vote," he told Reuters.
"And I definitely did not tick the tree [the NCP’s electoral symbol]," he added.
His story is similar to those of opposition candidates across Sudan who say that if they believed the low number of votes they got, their families could not have voted for them.
Armed police refused to allow Sudanese party agents to sleep near the ballot boxes overnight and on at least two confirmed occasions, NEC officials were caught at night inside the locked rooms with the ballot boxes and ballots. They all denied fraud, saying they were reviewing the ballots.
The opposition gave examples of a few centers they were able to guard overnight using weapons. There they had much more votes than the NCP, but they were outweighed by other unguarded centers in the same constituency which recorded hundreds of NCP votes, ultimately ensuring they lost.
In some polling stations, party agents found there were more ballots in the boxes than those who voted. In other centers, elections officials would not give them the numbers of voters to enable a comparison, observers said.
The Sudanese people had five days to vote for their president as well as legislative and local representatives in the country’s first multi-party election since 1986. It represents one of several milestones in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between North and South.