Carter Center Welcomes Sudan's Elections Campaign, Urges Steps to Ensure Open and Inclusive Process
March 18, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In Khartoum: Graham Elson +249 907978505 or Ajay Patel +249 907978513
In Juba: Sanne van den Bergh: +249 911 714 041 or +256 477 182 893
In Atlanta: Deborah Hakes, +1 404 420 5124
In its latest statement on Sudan's electoral process, The Carter Center notes that while much has been achieved in organizing the 2010 elections, the country's first competitive elections since 1986, the process remains at risk on multiple fronts including the ability of candidates to campaign freely and the impact of delayed logistical preparations by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Sudan's election campaigning has been ongoing across the country since Feb. 13, with some 16,000 candidates contesting 1841 parliamentary and executive seats. Although there have been incidents of violence, the campaign so far has been mostly peaceful. The overall electoral environment continues to suffer though from a legacy of years of repression. Improvement of the freedom of candidates to campaign and disseminate their messages through the state media is necessary. Further, the ability of candidates and supporters to express their views freely is limited by existing laws that contravene Sudan's constitutional protections. Campaigning has been constrained due to an environment of insecurity in many parts of the country,including Darfur and Eastern Sudan. This insecurity may inhibit the success of the electoral process and the Center urges further efforts to improve security for the elections period and beyond.
The Center strongly recommends that the NEC and other Sudanese authorities to take steps to ensure that the campaign period is both peaceful and fair to all candidates and to quickly address any violations that arise. Failure to do so will erode confidence in the election process and put its success at risk.
All branches of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan should assist in providing necessary resources needed for the election while remaining neutral in the campaign.
Given the short timeline before the elections, the NEC should assess the status of current electoral preparations while accelerating final preparations for polling and, critically, escalating voter education in order to deliver the elections to the standard required by Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Logistical preparations are straining the limited capacity of the NEC. With a series of delays and changes in polling procedures, a minor delay in polling for operational purposes may be required. The Center's statement urged the NEC to make a decision as quickly as possible about any delay in the election date so that all stakeholders have time to adjust plans.
In deciding whether to adjust the electoral calendar for operational reasons, the political parties should respect the NEC's authority as the administrating body of the election.
Background on the Carter Center's mission
The Carter Center international election observation mission began activities in Sudan in February 2008 in response to a request from the leaders of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan and concluded a comprehensive memorandum of understanding with the Government of Sudan and the NEC guaranteeing a full and unrestricted program of international electoral observation, including freedom of access throughout the country and to all stages of the electoral process. The Center also supports technical capacity building efforts with Sudan's domestic election observer groups.
The objectives of the Carter Center's election observation mission in Sudan are to: a) provide an impartial assessment of the overall quality of the electoral process, b) promote an inclusive electoral process for all Sudanese, and c) demonstrate international interest in Sudan's electoral process. The mission is assessing the electoral process in Sudan based on the CPA, Interim National Constitution, National Elections Act, and obligations for democratic elections contained in regional and international agreements, including the African Charter on Human and People's Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Carter Center conducts election observation missions in accordance with the Declaration of Principles of International Election Observation and Code of Conduct that was adopted at the United Nations in 2005 and has been endorsed by 35 election observation groups.
Read more about the Carter Center's election observation mission to Sudan at www.cartercenter.org/sudan-eom.
The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. The Carter Center began working in Sudan in 1986 on the Sasakawa-Global 2000 agricultural project and for more than 20 years its health and peace programs have focused on improving health and preventing and resolving conflicts in Sudan. Please visit www.cartercenter.org to learn more about The Carter Center.
 Sudan ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) on Feb. 18, 1986. The ACHPR came into force on Oct.21, 1986, after its adoption in Nairobi (Kenya) in 1981 by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). In addition, Sudan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on March 18, 1986, which entered into force on March 23, 1976.