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Sudan’s Bashir appoints new chief of National Elections Commission

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July 6, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has issued a presidential decree naming Mukhtar al-Asam chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and Abdallah Adam Mahdi as deputy chairman.

Bashir also issued another decree appointing Safwat Fanus and Atta Allah Hamad Bashir members of the NEC.

The president on Wednesday accepted the resignation of NEC chief Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah who attributed it to health issues.

Al-Asam faced a fierce media campaign in the middle of the year 2010 accusing him of being the registered owner of a centre for civic and voter education which was hired by the commission and also that some of his relatives were employed by the NEC. Both claims were acknowledged by al-Asam.

Al-Asam at the time said the centre has its own legal personality and was established early 2009. He was then appointed head of the electoral register, constituencies, education, and training committee in the NEC.

The NEC later appointed another member in his position after it decided not to cancel its contract with his centre, saying it seeks to prevent any conflict of interest.

The NEC was originally comprised of nine members but the number was reduced to six members after two southern members left the commission following secession of South Sudan besides the death of its member Mohamed Taha Abu Samra.

The old members of the electoral body include Mukhtar al-Asam, Abdalla Alhardalo, al-Hadi Mohamed Ahmed, and Mahasin Hag al-Safi.

According to the law, Bashir has the right to renew membership for one term while the parliament has the legal right to appoint three members without determining their positions in the NEC.

Last week, the National Assembly approved the three presidential nominees for the NEC including a professor of political science at the University of Khartoum (UofK), Safwat Fanus, the former secretary of the regional bloc IGAD, Atta allah Hamad Bashir, and the former solicitor general, Abdallah Ahmed Mahdi.

The Sudanese parliament last week passed amendments to the 2008 elections law amid accusations by opposition that the government plans to rig the election process through the new law.

Presidential assistant, Ibrahim Ghandour said the amendments serve interests of the rising political parties and allows them to be represented in the regional and national legislature, pointing it is not the only means to achieve that end.

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 liberties.

After conflicting statements from government officials, Bashir emphasized last week that there will be no postponement for next year’s elections and even berated NCP officials who suggested otherwise.

(ST)

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