Home | Comment & Analysis    Sunday 31 January 2010

Fraud in Sudan’s electoral process

By Arman Muhammad Ahmad

January 30, 2010 — Under the current government Sudan is one of the world’s least transparent countries, according to a 2009 report by Transparency International. State institutions today lack transparency due to a number of reasons, among them the absence of the rule of law and judicial independence as well as systematic constitutional violations.

Shocking levels of corruption only add to the problem. The Auditor-general produced annual reports revealing only 10% of the misuse of public money by government officials. The Auditor-general himself is accused of sleaze by some influential political beasts inside the ruling (National Congress Party). Clearly, NCP officials have become (and have always been) symbols of kleptocracy in Sudan.

The current regime will not allow transparent, free and fair elections that could end its bad governance. The upcoming April 2010 elections in particular, are of great importance to the ruling group. Indeed some NCP affiliates have claimed that its results will be a devastating blow to Luis Moreno Ocampo the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (the ICC-which is currently charging President Al-Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity).

False registration

For this reason, the NCP plots to fraud the upcoming elections by falsifying the results of the population census and through the addition of false names to the electoral register or the multiple registration of a single person (to be used later in ballot stuffing). The number of false names in the electoral register is estimated to be over 10 million. This fabrication has been done through a number of means. For example, local popular committees throughout the country have issued millions of false IDs. Under-age citizens have been added to the electoral register and police and armed forces personnel have been registered inappropriately. There have also been many discrepancies in the registration of the Sudanese expatriates and immigrants abroad.

The High Electoral Commission has been appointed by the government while NCP cadres carry out the field work by registering people. Some cadres from the ruling group have also bribed (and tried to bribe) monitors and representatives from other parties.

Pointless observation

The population census has shown that the population of Sudan is about 39 million and that the enfranchised population is around 20 million. The citizens who have registered are actually less than 6 million. However, the Electoral Commission declared that 16 million people or about 80% of the enfranchised population have been registered. This is to allow the government to claim that the elections meet international requirements. Consequently, after a meeting between United Nations representatives in Khartoum and the High Electoral Commission, around $90, 000,000 were allotted by the U.N to support this fraudulent election operation.

However, the results of the general elections in Sudan have become a foregone conclusion so sending international monitors to observe them in April 2010 will be pointless.

Further more, these elections have been postponed several times. This violates article 216 of the present Sudan transitional constitution which states that the general elections must be held no later than the 9th of July 2009. This means that the current government has lost its legitimacy since that time; therefore any general elections held afterwords would be unconstitutional and illegal.

False legitimacy

Amazingly, NCP lawyers have tried to defend this by referring to Article 57 of the transitional constitution. The Minister of Justice held a press conference on the 12th of July 2009 in which he stated that Article 57 permitted the current President to stay in power for another 5 years. The former Chairman of the Sudanese Legal Bar (which is affiliated with the NCP) has also stated the same.

Unfortunately, for the Justice Minister and the former Chairman of the Legal Bar, Article 57 does not refer to the current President. It refers to the forthcoming elected President. This exposes the lack of integrity that plagues the current legal institutions-where the supposed champions of the Sudanese legal system, such as the Justice Minster and the former Chairman of the Legal Bar, pursue their own political agenda rather than uphold the law and constitution.

Another strange occurrence is that some people claim that these elections are fraudulent while simultaneously advocating that people participate in them to uphold their constitutional rights. But how can constitutional rights be upheld by an action which is fundamentally unconstitutional? The only result that can come out of such an action is the lending of false legitimacy to an illegitimate government.

Before votes are cast in the ballot box, claims of electoral fraud must be investigated by an independent and transparent body. The millions of dollars donated by international donors and the U.N must be legally audited. Only then can free, fair and democratic elections be held in Sudan.

The author is a Sudanese writer. He can be reached at armana@email.com