THE CARTER CENTER
Waging Peace.
Fighting Disease.
Building Hope.
News &smp; Publications

The Carter Center Election Observation Mission
in Sudan Presidential, Gubernatorial, and
Legislative Elections, April 2010


April 17, 2010


PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

 

  عربي >

 

اقرا هذا البيان الكامل الاولى



Contact:

Deborah Hakes, Khartoum until April 20: +249 909 010 573,
then Atlanta: +1 404 420-5124

Graham Elson, Khartoum, + 249 907 978 505

 

Executive Summary

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:

  • The April 2010 elections in Sudan were mandated by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and were envisioned as a critical part of a broader democratic transformation.
  • Unfortunately, many political rights and freedoms were circumscribed for most of this period, fostering distrust among the major political parties.
  • In the campaign period and run-up to the 2010 elections, however, there was a limited but important political opening that provided opportunities for opposition parties and civil society to engage in the political process. After a long period of dormancy, Sudanese parties and civic groups across the country began to mobilize.
  • Most of the opposition parties joined together to demand the reform of laws and the lifting of restrictions of political freedoms and several major parties ultimately withdrew from the election shortly before election day. Although all candidates remained on the ballots, there was little competition in the race for the presidency and reduced competition in other races.
  • The polling process on April 11-15 was largely peaceful and orderly. Despite confusion and significant logistical challenges, polling staff and voters in most areas displayed remarkable commitment, patience, and tolerance. Voters turned out in good numbers to cast their ballots, but with varying levels of participation across the country. The Sudanese people are to be commended for their civic spirit, pride, and hospitality.
  • Notwithstanding these generally positive features, Carter Center observers noted important flaws and found that the process fell short of Sudan's obligations and related international standards in a number of respects.
  • Sudan's legal framework is contradictory and does not ensure adequate respect for essential political rights and freedoms prescribed in Sudan's constitution, including freedoms of expression, assembly, and association.
  • Although the voter registration process resulted in broad but uneven participation across the country, it was undermined by a series of critical shortcomings. Preliminary lists were not consistently posted for adequate public review, especially in the South, and the status of the final voter registry and list of polling stations remained uncertain. The Carter Center has recently received an electronic copy of the complete list and will attempt to ascertain if any of these changes were designed to assist particular political parties.
  • On election days, voters faced a range of operational and logistical problems: late delivery of and/or inadequate materials, incomplete or inaccurate voters lists, incorrect or insufficient ballots, ballots with inappropriate languages, and a lack of consistency in procedures.  These problems were partially alleviated by the extension of voting time by two days.
  • Further, the electoral process lacked sufficient safeguards and transparency necessary to verify key steps and build confidence and trust in the process. Our observers reported problems with ink, ballot box seals, and the process of identifying voters, including the process of verifying voters' identity when registration certificates were issued by popular committees at the polling stations, as well as reports of underage voters casting ballots.
  • There were large numbers of illiterate voters, and some evidence of election officials deliberately misrepresenting the desires of some voters.
  • The elections in the South experienced a high incidence of intimidation and the threat or use of force. There were numerous instances of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army (SPLA) intimidating voters and being stationed too close to polling stations. State interference in the campaigns of opposition candidates was widespread in the South.
  • The continuing state of emergency, repression of civil liberties, and ongoing conflict in Darfur did not permit an environment conducive to acceptable elections. Given the limited participation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur in the census and voter registration, much of the population was left out of the process. Carter Center observers were unable to access wide areas of the region due to the security situation. While the areas they monitored were largely peaceful, they reported serious technical and procedural violations during the polling.
  • In the months ahead, Sudanese political and civil society leaders from across the political spectrum should reaffirm their commitment to core democratic values. Sudan's government must ensure that the democratic opening is expanded and deepened. Full respect for human rights, democratic principles, and transparency will help to heal the mistrust that has detracted from the electoral process.
  • It is important for Sudan to draw lessons from this election to ensure that the upcoming referenda and popular consultations do not have the same flaws, both technically and politically. Our Center and other international observers will have recommendations to assist in reaching this goal.

 

Background

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.


Read the full statement here (PDF) >>

Sign Up for Email Updates

Thanks for Signing Up!

Please leave this field empty

Thanks for Staying Updated!

Now, we invite you to Get Involved