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Semi-Autonomous South Sudan Says Ready for Elections


In Sudan, the semi-autonomous south said it is ready for the planned national elections once the newly appointed independent electoral commission decides on the date.

The Sudan parliament approved the electoral commission last month to conduct national elections by next year July in fulfillment of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

But a senior member of the ruling National Congress Party, Nafi Ali Nafi reportedly accused opposition political parties of seeking to postpone the elections so that the opposition can raise the issue of forming a broader coalition government.

Pagan Amum is Secretary General of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Minister for Cabinet Affairs in the Government of National Unity of Sudan. He told VOA the SPLM wants to win the elections to form the next national government of Sudan.

"SPLM has made its position very clear. We are ready to participate in the elections when the date of election is declared by the electoral commission. It is only the electoral commission that has the power set the date of election and / or to postpone these elections," he said.

Senior member of the ruling National Congress Party, Nafi Ali Nafi reportedly accused opposition political parties of seeking to postpone the elections so that the opposition could raise the issue of forming a broader coalition government.

Amum said only the ruling National Congress has reasons to call for postponement of the elections.

"It is only the National Congress who should be interested in the postponement of elections. So he cannot be accusing political parties, who are not in the government, to call for the postponement of elections. The only party that is interested in the postponement of elections is the National Congress because they know they have been the incumbent party for about 19 years. They know their popularity has also waned since long," Amum said.

He denied any knowledge of a United Nations panel of experts reportedly telling South Sudan to consider postponing the elections, originally scheduled for July 2009 to the end of the year.

"I have no information of the U.N. advising the government of southern Sudan. But if the U.N. has any expert opinion this should be directed to the electoral commission which is the only body that has the power to determine the day of the election or to postpone them for technical reasons," he said.

Amum reiterated that SPLM was ready to participate in the elections.

"The SPLM is ready to contest these elections, and it's offering itself, its program and manifesto to the Sudanese people, and our aim is to win the absolute majority of the vote of our people so that we form the next government at the national level, at the level of Southern Sudan and also at the state level," Amum said.

The Sudan parliament approved the electoral commission last month, and Amum said he was confident the commission could conduct free and fair elections.

"This is a question that you can put to the electoral commission itself, but we are confident that the electoral commission, the way it has been composed, is a credible body. It's composed of very experienced statesmen, people who are known for their integrity," he said.

Amum appealed to the international community to provide support to the electoral commission, the Sudan government and political parties so facilitate a free and fair election.


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