Presidential candidate in S. Sudan accuses poll body of abetting rigging

Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) -- A presidential candidate in semi-autonomous Southern Su dan, Dr Lam Akol Ajawin, who is pitted against incumbent Salva Kiir Mayardit, Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the country's National Electoral Commission (NEC), accusing it of favouring rivals and failing to act against ele ctoral fraud.
Speaking at a press conference, Akol accused his rival in the south of using the military and other security agencies to rig the polls.
The polls have been extended by two more days following reports that a majority of the registered voters had not cast their votes in the landmark election, which entered the third day Tuesday.
â?Although voter turnout in southern Sudan was high, preparations by the electi on committees in the state were weak in many respects.
There were rampant incidents of election materials being sent to wrong polling centres, which has been made worse by absence of international monitors.
''The credibility of the results has already been put into question as we shall not be party to a flawed election,â? said, Akol, who chairs SPLM-Democratic Change.
He complained of heavy presence of armed soldiers in polling centres, illegal de tention of opposition candidates and intimidation of his supporters.
Akolâ?s protests lent credence to reports by monitors who have toured Southern Sudan, that despite the high voter turnout, electoral fraud had become frequent.
The presence of the security forces has been a common featu re, not just in the south but also in the north where SPLM has withdrawn from the polls.
In anticipation of the flaws, a number of parties had petitioned NEC chairman Ju stice Abel Alier to delay the polls until all loopholes are sealed.
NEC, with the support of the international community that included the United St ates and European Union, declined to accede to the demand on the grounds that it would be a recipe for political violence.
Although SPLM-DC, the faction headed by Akol, said it had reported the offences during electioneering and voting, it complained that NEC did nothing more than â?referring the letters to the president of southern Sudan im ploring him to respect his earlier public announcements that he would allow political parties to operate freelyâ¦â? This is the first time the south is holding polls since the signing of a compreh ensive peace agreement with the north in Nairobi in 2005 that ended two decades of conflict between the predominantly Muslims north and Christian so uth.
During the press conference, Akol denied reports that had circulated the previou s day, which said he was considering pulling out of the race before polling ends on Thursday.
â?The allegations are being perpetrated by the same people who do not want to a ddress poll fraud in southern Sudan,â? he said.

13 april 2010 12:52:00

xhtml CSS