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Carter Center Commends Broad Participation in Sudan's Registration, Urges Additional Steps to Ensure Genuine Elections


In Khartoum: Jeffrey Mapendere +249 909 010 586 or Aly Verjee +249 126 341 480

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In a statement released today, The Carter Center welcomed the conclusion of national voter registration in Sudan, which ended Dec. 7, and congratulated the people of Sudan for the broad and generally peaceful participation in the registration process. According to the National Elections Commission (NEC), at least 75.8 percent of eligible Sudanese were registered, relatively close to the 80 percent NEC national target, including 15.7 million of the estimated electorate of 20.7 million people.

Overall, the Center reported that voter registration appeared largely successful in reaching citizens in most areas of the country, despite substantial logistical and security challenges, serious shortfalls in civic education, and uneven registration rates across Sudan's states. The Center commended the NEC's efforts to conduct an inclusive exercise, including the one-week extension of the voter registration period; however, the failure of the NEC and political parties to conduct broad civic education during registration hindered the process and was a missed opportunity to increase citizen participation. Despite these limitations, NEC figures indicate that an estimated 71 percent of the eligible population of Northern Sudan and 98 percent of Southern Sudan's eligible population registered. For many, this has been their first encounter with democratic processes. Women's participation reportedly exceeded 50 percent. Unfortunately, 13 of Sudan's 25 states fell short of the NEC's registration targets, including all three states in the Darfur region.

At the same time, however, the Center also noted that significant challenges remain in the electoral process ahead, and urged action to ensure the full protection of political rights and freedoms, to pass key reform legislation, including the National Security Forces Act and laws pertaining to the referenda, and to address remaining problems in the Darfur peace process and in the transitional areas, including Abyei.

In the months ahead, the NEC should significantly expand efforts to educate Sudanese voters on the electoral process, especially in areas with comparatively low levels of registration, to ensure citizens understand their rights and responsibilities under the electoral system. This is particularly true in Darfur, where the NEC, GONU, and other stakeholders should take steps to implement a broad civic education program and ensure protections of freedom of assembly and association in advance of the elections.

In addition, in order to build confidence in the inclusiveness and accuracy of the voters' registry, the Center urged the NEC and the state elections committees to finalize the full preliminary voters' lists without delay and provide technical support to the state election committees to compile the data electronically. Moreover, the NEC should make the voters' lists available to political parties and national and international observers for thorough examination and audit. While the exhibition of the list has begun in many areas, the process appears to be understood little by either registrants or registrars. The NEC should increase public information efforts to emphasize the importance of citizen review of the list.

In regard to the broader political context of the electoral process, the Center's statement expressed serious concerns about incidents that undermine political rights and fundamental freedoms in Sudan, including: arrests, detention and harassment of civil society and political party members for constitutional and peaceful activity in Khartoum and other cities by security services, and attacks on the National Congress Party (NCP) premises in Wau and Rumbek. These and other such incidents destabilize and erode confidence between the parties, and swift legal action must be taken against the perpetrators. All agencies of the Government of National Unity of Sudan (GONU) and the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), the NCP and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) have the responsibility to ensure faithful implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and to ensure Sudan's constitutional protections of freedoms of assembly, association, and expression.

Finally, the Center also welcomed the announced agreement between the NCP and the SPLM on the referenda laws for Southern Sudan and Abyei, and the popular consultation laws for Blue Nile and South Kordofan. In order to ensure a political environment conducive to genuine democratic elections, the GONU and GOSS need to take additional steps, especially including the amendment of all national laws incompatible with the CPA.

The Carter Center Observation Mission in Sudan. Following the commencement of long-term election observation activities in Sudan in February 2008 at the invitation of the GONU and the GOSS, The Carter Center deployed 32 medium and long-term observers to assess and report on voter registration and the broader political and electoral environment across Sudan. The Center's observers assessed voter registration activities in more than 650 fixed and mobile registration centers in all 25 states across the country. The observer delegation was drawn from 21 countries: Cameroon, Canada, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Norway, Palestine, Serbia, Spain, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. A smaller delegation of Carter Center observers remains in place for the exhibition of and challenges to voters' lists in constituencies across the country.

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 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Interim National Constitution, National Elections Act, and obligations for democratic elections contained in regional and international agreements to which Sudan is a signatory, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples' 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 Statement on Sudan's Voter Registration, Nov. 1-Dec. 7, 2009 (PDF)


"Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope"

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 to learn more about The Carter Center.

Read the statement (PDF)

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