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Rights Abuses Could Undermine Sudan’s Election, Says Rights Group Official

  • Peter Clottey

A Sudanese opposition supporter shouts slogans as protesters wave the flag of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) during a demonstration against the government in Khartoum, 07 Dec 2009

A Sudanese opposition supporter shouts slogans as protesters wave the flag of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) during a demonstration against the government in Khartoum, 07 Dec 2009

A human rights official said the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) are abusing the rights of ordinary citizens ahead of the upcoming general election.

A human rights official said the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) are abusing the rights of ordinary citizens ahead of the upcoming general election.

Georgette Gagnon, Executive Director, Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.

Georgette Gagnon, Executive Director, Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.

Georgette Gagnon, executive director of the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch said the ongoing human rights violations could undermine the upcoming election scheduled for April 2010.

“We spent several weeks on the ground in Sudan in November and December and what we found is that both the national and Southern Sudanese authorities are abusing Sudanese people’s civil and political human rights. And it seems to us that it’s very unlikely the election in April will be free fair or credible,” she said.

But supporters of the National Congress Party (NCP) as well as the SPLM have denied abusing people’s rights ahead of the election.

Gagnon said the Khartoum government is still using its security forces to harass and abuse those who speak out against the ruling NCP.

“For example, the demonstrations in December in Khartoum, which were violently suppressed by the Sudanese security forces, even some opposition members were detained without charge for several days. These are facts. This has actually happened. The fact that Bashir is running for president when he should be in The Hague facing trial for war crimes, of course, is a very serious concern. But we are concerned about the rights of all Sudanese to actually be able to vote for who they want,” Gagnon said.

She also called on southern Sudan’s semi-autonomous government to end arrests of people simply for their membership in a political party.

Gagnon also urged both President Bashir’s government and the SPLM to embrace HRW’s recommendations.

“We hope very much that the recommendations we’ve put forward will be taken on board by both authorities. And also that the international donors and stakeholders who have invested in this election as well will deploy election observers as quickly as possible because we think that will help ensure that the election is carried out in a somewhat more respectful and right-protecting way,” Gagnon said.

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