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Observers Criticize Sudanese Elections


Election officials are still counting ballots in Sudan, where people are waiting to find out who won the country's first multi-party elections in 24 years. Several opposition groups have already lodged complaints, and now international observers say the voting itself has come up short.

It has been several days since the polls closed, sending ballots to be counted under the watchful eyes of international observers.

Saturday, the observers told Sudan and the international community that the voting process has been lacking.

``These elections have struggled to reach international standards.'' said Veronique De Keyser, the Chief European Union Observer. She says turnout for the five-day vote was good, about 60 percent, but that the process was still plagued with problems.

"With significant deficiencies, these elections, despite all the comments I made in the context, didn't yet reach the international standards. Not yet," she said.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was also critical. "It is obvious that the elections will fall short of international standards that are normally expected of advanced democracies in the holding of elections," he said. "And Sudan's obligations for genuine elections in many respects, that people's expectations have not been met."

International observers say the election was marred by a series of problems: from incomplete voter lists to a shortage of voting materials and even voter intimidation.

Still, some observers found reasons for hope. A mission from the European Parliament said despite difficulties, the vote represented a crucial step forward. And the African Union also praised Sudan for the peaceful nature of the vote.

Several parties partially or fully boycotted the vote, including southern Sudan's main party - the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. Incumbent president Omar al-Bashir is expected to win another term in office when final results are announced, likely on Tuesday.

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