Human rights groups are sharply criticizing the Sudanese elections, even though there are three more days of voting.
The Enough Project, Save Darfur Coalition, Genocide Intervention Network and Humanity United held a joint teleconference Monday.
“The national elections are a tremendous lost opportunity for Sudan,” says John Norris, head of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress.
Hope after the CPA
“When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed (in 2005), there was a good reason that national elections and the southern independence referendum were set a number of years out. It was because there was a profound hope and an agreement signed on paper that Sudan would be transformed,” he says.
At the time, says Norris, many believed a “freer and fairer environment” would ensue.
“That it would begin to actually engage in power sharing among parties. That there would be a real concerted effort to make unity more attractive for the south,” he says.
It didn’t happen, he says, and “international diplomats have had very little to say about that.”
He says he fears the many problems with the elections could lead to further problems throughout the country.
“The key thing to remember is that it’s also sowing the seeds for further conflict in the north. And I think this failure to embrace genuine power sharing to allow other political parties to operate freely and fairly will have profound ramifications in the north,” he says.
The Obama administration has a special envoy for Sudan, General Scott Gration. He took part in efforts to get the elections back on track when main opposition parties dropped out of the vote.
Mark Lotwis, acting president of the Save Darfur Coalition, wants President Obama to take a firm stand on the elections.
“When this election is over,” he says, “the Obama administration should declare that the results of this election are illegitimate, as it is clear that the conditions have not existed for free and fair elections.”
Lotwis also wants Mr. Obama to declare that Sudanese president Bashir is “not a legitimately elected leader.”
The rights groups plan to hold daily briefings this week on the latest developments in the Sudanese elections.