Home | News    Wednesday 1 July 2009

Sudan delays national elections for the second time

June 30, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese elections commission has decided to introduce a 2-months delay once again to the general elections originally scheduled for February 2010.

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A worker from the Southern Sudan Commission for Census, Statistics and Evaluation (SSCCSE) prepares shipments for transport from their main warehouse in Juba to the ten states of Southern Sudan, on March 4, 2008 (AFP)

The commission justified its decision saying that delays in releasing census results as well as the rainy season, which prevents proper voter registration.

The outcome of the fifth census is now rejected by the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) which requested a political agreement over the issue but the dominant National Congress Party (NCP) continues to believe that the southern Sudan ruling party has to accept the internationally monitored results.

The elections will mark the end of the interim period that started in July 2005 following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

According to the CPA, the presidential and parliamentary elections on national and state levels were supposed to be held before July 2009.

However, Sudan electoral board decided to delay elections to February 2010, citing the need for further preparations and resolving crucial outstanding issues.

The commission today released a timetable showing that polling and sorting the results will occur in the week of April 5 2010. The voters’ registration is planned for November 2009.

Earlier this month one of the senior commission officials hinted that a delay may be necessary but later retracted his statements for unknown reasons.

“We are considering a modification, an adjustment of our old timeframe to accommodate the delays that have taken place,” said Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, the deputy chairman of the National Elections Commission said in an interview with Reuters.

“Some of the intervals and the stages are dictated by law so you cannot accelerate the stages,” he further said.

Besides, the security law and Abyei issue, the North-South border still not defined. Boundaries delineation on paper could be done by September and on-the-ground demarcation by December, Abdullah said.

Also the Darfur conflict that erupted since six years ago does not seem of a major concern for the SPLM which focuses its efforts in the 2011 referendum. However, many unresolved questions are raised over the participation of the displaced and the refugees in eastern Chad.

The deputy head of the independent electoral board said they did not yet decide whether Sudanese refugees abroad will be allowed to vote and, if so, how.

Today NCP and SPLM officials speaking to Reuters suggested they agree with the commission decision to delay the elections further.

Some SPLM officials are wary that delay in implementing the key aspects of the CPA including elections would result in pushing back the referendum scheduled for 2011.