EU, Carter Centre back Sudan polls despite hiccups

Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) -- The European Union and the Carter Centre said they would back the Sudanese polls despite the significant deficiencies detected in the organisationa and polling process.
Although the polls had "struggled to meet international standards", they said, they represented a major achievement towards full democratization and the implementation the treaty signed between the north and the south in 2005 that provide for expansion of democratic pace and enfranchisement of all Sudanese.
However, the observers equivocated on whether to endorse the polls as credible or not.
EU Chief Observer Veronique de Keyser and former US President Jimmy Carter however adjudged the election process as "legitimate" and of "embryonic" significance to future elections.
"The organisation of genuine elections represented a tremendous challenge due to its complexity.
Unfortunately competition was reduced as opposition candidates, considering they could not participate on an equal footing, withdrew from the race in the North.
''In addition deficiencies in voter lists and weak organisation hindered the voter participation," said Keyser when the EU delivered its preliminary report on how the first poll in Africa's largest nation in a quarter of a century was conducted.
Carter said despite the short-comings, international observers had no option but to accept the outcome as legitimate as a way of moving the process of democratisation in a country that had not held an election in 24 years.
However, as the EU and the Carter Centre stated their position on the controversial poll, the African Union (AU) appeared unsure of whether to give thumbs up to the process.
An AU observer who spoke off the record questioned the legitimacy of the poll, saying voter turnout had shown many discrepancies.
"At some polling we found voter turnout to be 1 per cent of the registered voters, while at several others the number who voted were below 10 per cent,'' the observer said.
''What intrigued us is that at some polling stations in the north, voter turnout was more than 110 per cent.
" Opposition parties that opted to take part in the poll have questioned the authenticity of the ballot papers as they did not have duplicates.
In addition, two presidential candidates, Sudan People's Liberation Movement's (SPLM) Deng Niang and Yasir Arman, who also ran in the north on SPLM against President Omar Hassan el-Bashir, did not get even a single vote at polling centres where they registered.
Carter said, "The elections will fall short of meeting international standards and Sudan's obligations for genuine elections in many respects.
Nonetheless elections are important as a key benchmark in the comprehensive peace agreement and because of the increased political and civic participation that has occurred over the last several months.

17 april 2010 14:37:00

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