Sudan elections important transition despite mistakes: AL observers

09:53, April 19, 2010      

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The Arab League (AL) Election Observation Mission said on Sunday that Sudan's general elections constituted an important transition despite mistakes that caused them to fall short of international standards.

The AL observers expressed satisfaction over the progress in the Sudanese elections, sayings the landmark first multi-party elections in the country in 24 years proceeded well with positive phenomena.

"The elections proceeded well with positive phenomena," said Salah Halima, the head of the AL observation mission, at a press conference in Khartoum.

He said those positive phenomena include "cooperation between heads and members of the polling stations, as well as security personnel with international and local observers and the representatives of the parties in facilitating their duties."

He applauded the regular presence of the parties' representatives in the polling stations during the five days of voting and the wide presentation of Sudanese, especially women, the elderly, and the disabled voters.

The AL mission head also commended safety and stability that most of the Sudanese states enjoyed throughout the polling period.

In the meantime, Halima said the AL mission has noticed some shortcomings in the Sudanese electoral process.

"There were flaws in the voting lists, election symbols, voting cards, delays in the arrival of some materials to the polling centers, insufficient training to the members of the polling stations, apparent drawbacks in the logistical arrangements and inability of observation in far and remote areas by international observers," he said.

However, Halima said those mistakes will not affect the overall results of the elections.

"We cannot say that the Sudanese elections have met international standards, but that does not reduce what has happened, which is an important transition," he said.

The AL mission head underlined the high turnout in the Sudanese elections.

"In northern Sudan, the turnout reached 70 percent in some polling centers and even 80 percent in others, while in southern Sudan, an average 70 percent of participation was recorded," said Halima.

As for the western restive region of Darfur, Halima said the turnout in cities was estimated at 60 percent and around 50 percent in IDPs (internally displaced people) camps.

He commended the Sudan National Elections Commission (NEC) for its efforts to solve the technical and administrative problems to make the electoral process a success.

Halima expressed hope that the Sudanese electoral process would be a motivation in democratic transformation and development, and that it would push for more collaboration between parties and political powers to positively contribute to this transformation.

The AL observation mission has deployed 50 observers and visited 700 polling centers, which consisted of 2,000 polling stations in 18 of Sudan's northern and southern states, including the three states of Darfur.



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