Carter Center Reports Widespread Irregularities in Sudan's Vote Tabulation and Strongly Urges Steps to Increase Transparency
May 10, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In Khartoum: Graham Elson +249 907 978 505 or Ajay Patel +249 907 978 513
In Juba: Sanne van den Bergh: +249 911 714 041 or +256 477 182 893
In Atlanta: Deborah Hakes, +1 404 420 5124
In a statement released today, The Carter Center reported that based on its direct observations, Sudan's vote tabulation process was highly chaotic, non-transparent, and vulnerable to electoral manipulation. As a result, the Center is concerned about the accuracy of the preliminary results announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC), as procedures and safeguards intended to ensure accuracy and transparency have not been systematically applied and in some areas have been routinely bypassed. The Center also noted serious concerns about election-related violence and intimidation in several states, especially Northern Bahr al Ghazal, Unity, and Western Equatoria.
To provide greater transparency and to build public confidence, the Center urges the NEC to publish the results of individual polling stations as quickly and widely as possible and to thoroughly review the results, especially those based on manual tabulation, which lack the safeguards of the electronic tabulation system, or where other deviations from procedure occurred. A swift posting of all polling station results could allow stakeholders to verify the accuracy of the official data, addressing ongoing doubts as to the credibility of the results. The NEC should make individual polling station results available so that all parties have access to the necessary evidence for meaningful complaints, appeals, and challenges to election results. The NEC and the Court should allow complaints and appeals to be submitted as and when individual polling station results are available.
The counting and tabulation period was generally peaceful in most areas; however, serious incidents were reported in several states. In South Darfur, 22 people died in fighting in the East Jebel area, disrupting polling and counting. Post-election-related violence in Unity State resulted in three deaths and a number of injuries. The Center expressed alarm about this incident and urged the security forces, local authorities, political parties and candidates to demonstrate restraint and respect for peaceful civil protest. Beyond the serious violence in South Darfur and Unity State, there were also instances of unwarranted detention and mistreatment of state High Election Committee (SHC) staff by security forces in Northern Bahr al Ghazal and Western Equatoria. In Central Equatoria, theft of computers and gubernatorial Results Forms from the SHC by unidentified armed security forces is of great concern. It is important that state authorities abide by the rule of law and ensure that citizens, candidates, and election management staff are not harassed or unlawfully detained. Moreover, both the Government of National Unity and Government of Southern Sudan have an important role to play in promoting security of the person.
A number of political parties have rejected, or declared that they will challenge, the election results in court. It is essential that the NEC and the National Supreme Court act in a timely fashion to facilitate this process impartially and in compliance with Sudan's international commitments.
While welcoming the holding of national elections in Sudan, the Center notes that the elections are only one of a broader set of commitments in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). In the months ahead, it is important that Sudan ensure that the flaws and irregularities in the 2010 elections are addressed so that future electoral processes are improved and a substantive democratic transformation is enabled. Improving the conduct of anticipated elections in Gezira, South Kordofan, and other areas is critical. In addition, Sudanese leaders need to redouble efforts to address the other democratic commitments outlined in the CPA that remain unfulfilled.
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. In early-April 2010, the Center deployed more than 70 short-term observers to observe the balloting, counting, and tabulation processes for the 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, former prime minister of Tanzania and Justice Joseph Sinde Warioba, and Carter Center President and CEO Dr. John Hardman. Following the conclusion of polling on April 15, Carter Center observers remained in all the states of Sudan to observe the counting and tabulation process at polling stations and centers, state data centers, and the national data center in Khartoum. Carter Center core staff and long-term observers continue to assess the post-election complaints and appeals process and their resolution, and will remain to observe the preparations and implementation of the state legislative assembly elections in Gezira and South Kordofan and other rescheduled elections.
The Carter Center assesses Sudan's electoral process against the country's 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Interim National Constitution, the National Elections Act, the Political Parties Act, and the international obligations required of Sudan by international treaties. The Center's observation mission was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.
The following statement covers the counting and tabulation phase. The Center released a report on April 17 on the polling phase of the election that should be read in conjunction with this statement, which is preliminary. The Carter Center will publish a final report after the end of the electoral process.