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Sudan’s parliament set to approve amended electoral law tabled by NCP

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June 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) parliamentary bloc on Sunday tabled a draft bill to introduce amendments to the country’s electoral law for approval.

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The audience listens to Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir speaking during the opening of a new session of parliament on 28 October 2013 in Khartoum (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

The head of the NCP bloc Mahdi Ibrahim said in press statements today that his party’s political sector underscored the need for the national assembly to vote in its favor.

Ibrahim warned that the country could witness a state of chaos and lack of security if the new electoral law is not approved as soon as possible, stressing that holding the elections on time is a constitutional requirement.

He said these amendments will not prevent delay of elections once the government and the opposition agreed on the move through the ongoing national dialogue process.

Ibrahim also accused unnamed political forces of seeking to sabotage the national dialogue, noting the amendments were based on the recommendations submitted by the National Elections Commission (NEC) following a workshop that was held in coordination with the United Nations and political parties.

Meanwhile, the speaker of the parliament, al-Fatih Izz al-Din, announced they will invite the leader of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Hassan Al-Turabi, and leader of the National Umma Party (NUP), al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, to attend deliberations on the electoral law.

He added that all political parties will be invited to express their opinion on the amendments, noting that the move serves national interests and endorses effective participation.

Izz al-Din further said that the parliament seeks to ensure success of the national dialogue process, describing it as an important tool for resolving critical national issues.

He expressed optimism that the current conditions are more favorable than ever for creating state and federal legislative institutions with greater participation of most of the political forces.

The speaker also said they will hold workshops, hearings and dialogues with all political forces besides allowing the media to cover deliberations on the amended law, disclosing ongoing consultations on proposals to push forward the political process.

The Sudanese Council of Ministers on Thursday approved amendments to the elections law at a meeting chaired by first vice-president Bakri Hassan Saleh.

Under the amended law, members of uniformed forces will be able to cast their ballots without being restricted to the three months period requirement of residency in the constituency.

The goal of the amendments, according to the spokesman for the Council of Ministers Omer Mohamed Saleh, is to accommodate the changes resulting from creation of new states. He noted that as a result, the percentage of proportional representation according to the draft bill went up from 40% to 50% with an increase in the minimum allocated for women from 25% to 30% and for the party representation list from 15% to 20%.

Saleh said in press statements this week that the bill amended the 2008 elections law in line with a study conducted by the National Elections Commission (NEC) based on the experience of the 2010 elections.

On Wednesday, Mustafa Osman Ismail, the NCP political secretary, said that the amendments are necessary to avoid a constitutional vacuum which opposition parties have warned of.

Last week, Sudan’s presidential assistant Ibrahim Ghandour said that elections will most definitely take place as planned next year if opposition parties continue to refuse to engage in dialogue.

“When the elections commission announces election date, we will go ahead”, he said.

Sudanese officials in the past said 2015 general elections will proceed as planned irrespective of the national dialogue process.

Sudan’s general elections are set to be held in April 2015 but opposition parties threatened to boycott it saying the NCP holds absolute control over power and refuses to make any compromises to end the civil war and allow public freedoms.

(ST)

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