Deborah Hakes, Khartoum until April 20: +249 909 010 573,
then Atlanta: +1 404 420-5124
Graham Elson, Khartoum, + 249 907 978 505
The Carter Center commends the Sudanese people for the generally peaceful polling process to date and urges that the remaining stages of counting, tabulation, and posting of results be carried out transparently and accurately. In addition, the limited political opening around the elections should be expanded to ensure respect for Sudan's constitutional human rights and fundamental freedoms, and leaders from all parties should engage in genuine dialogue to address the key challenges facing Sudan.
While it is too early to offer a final overall assessment, it is apparent that the elections will fall short of meeting international standards and Sudan's obligations for genuine elections in many respects. Nonetheless, the elections are important as a key benchmark in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and because of the increased political and civic participation that has occurred over the last several months. Ultimately, the success of the elections will depend on whether Sudanese leaders take action to promote lasting democratic transformation.
Despite their observed weaknesses, the elections are a CPA benchmark and their conduct allows the remaining provisions of the agreement to be implemented.
At the invitation of Sudanese authorities, The Carter Center began assessing the electoral process in 2008 and deployed 12 long-term observers in late 2009. During the voter registration period in November and December 2009, the Center deployed an additional 20 observers, and for April 2010 polling, the Center organized an observation team with more than 70 observers who monitored the process in all 25 states in Sudan.
The electoral process is ongoing with counting and tabulation likely to last for several more days, followed by the posting of results. The Center's observers will continue to monitor these processes to their conclusion.
The main findings of the Center's mission to date are as follows:
In June 1989, the National Islamic Front (NIF) and forerunner of the present ruling National Congress Party (NCP) overthrew the democratically elected government headed by Prime Minister Sadig Al-Mahdi and for a period banned all political parties and political activities. In the following 16 years, fundamental civil and political freedoms were curtailed and civil society was restricted, while the civil war being fought between North-South hampered both the political and economic development of Southern Sudan. On Jan. 9, 2005, the National Congress Party-led Government of Sudan signed the CPA with the SPLM, thus ending a 22-year conflict. The CPA stipulated the holding of national elections in Sudan to cement the country's democratic transformation and to put in place accountable governments in northern and Southern Sudan to oversee the January 2011 referendum on self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan. While there have been tentative steps at political liberalization, the CPA's promise of democratic transformation has not been fulfilled. The conflict in Darfur and an ongoing failure to address marginalization in South Kordofan, eastern Sudan, and other regions have also weakened the dividends of peace promised by the CPA.
The Carter Center election observation mission has been in Sudan since February 2008 following an invitation from the leaders of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan. Twelve long-term observers were deployed throughout Sudan in advance of the election to assess election preparations. The Center deployed an additional 20 medium-term observers in November and early December 2009 to assess voter registration. In early April 2010, the Center augmented its long-term observer presence with the deployment of more than 70 short-term observers to observe the balloting, counting, and tabulation processes for April's national elections. The Carter Center observation mission was led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter; former Algerian Foreign Minister and member of the Elders Lakhdar Brahimi; Justice Joseph Sinde Warioba, former prime minister of Tanzania, former judge for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and former judge on the East African Court of Justice; and Carter Center President and CEO Dr. John Hardman.
Carter Center observers continue to assess the conclusion of counting and vote tabulation and will remain in Sudan to observe the post-election environment. These elections were assessed against Sudan's Interim National Constitution, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the National Elections Act, the Political Parties Act, as well as Sudan's international treaty obligations. The Center's observation mission was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for 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.
This statement is preliminary; further statements may be released after the conclusion of the counting and results reporting period. A final report will be published after the end of the electoral process.