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Southern Sudan Official Wants Mechanism to Prevent Election Violence

  • Peter Clottey

Leading candidates in Sudan's first multiparty presidential election, from left, Yasir Arman, Omar al-Beshir and Sadiq al-Mahdi

Leading candidates in Sudan's first multiparty presidential election, from left, Yasir Arman, Omar al-Beshir and Sadiq al-Mahdi

A top official in the Government of Southern Sudan is expressing confidence that steps will be taken to prevent violence in the upcoming general elections scheduled for April 11-13.

A top official in the Government of Southern Sudan is expressing confidence that steps will be taken to prevent violence in the upcoming general elections scheduled for April 11-13.

Last week, the Minister for Regional Cooperation General Oyay Deng Ajak participated in a conference in Ghana on prevention of electoral violence, where he said Sudan has a lot to learn and share with other African countries ahead of its polls.

“We came here to participate in this conference (and) we came to outline the situation in Sudan. We are now left with only (few) weeks for Sudan to go to general election …it is very important that we explain our internal situation about the election which is coming up and also about the referendum which is coming in nine months from now,” he said.

The conference on prevention of election violence was organized by Ghana’s Center for Democracy and Development and the former U.S Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer.

General Ajak said there is need for Africans to come up with practical means to resolving election challenges.

“It is very important that we know how elections have been conducted in many parts of Africa and what is it that has brought violence and how these things can be prevented from other areas. There are so many elections that have been conducted in Africa (and) most of them have gone on peacefully, but in some cases it has turned violent… and of course we want to learn from the countries where there has been violence and how we can prevent this violence,” Ajak said.

He said the situation in Sudan is sensitive, adding there is need for the country to put in mechanisms in place to ensure safety and security during and after the general election.

Ajak said he intends to share lessons learned at the conference with his countrymen.

“Definitely, the experience we learn from here we will share them with my colleagues, with the government of Southern Sudan, with the government of Sudan (and) with the electoral commission. Most of the experience that we will learn here will of course be definitely useful in the coming referendum in Sudan,” Ajak said.

In an address last week in Accra, Secretary Frazer urged leaders toprofessionalize election management across Africa.” She also called on those involved in managing polls to seek new approaches to ending electoral conflicts by promoting election security.

Jendayi Frazer was quoted as saying, ”the challenges to democracy in Africa, namely a powerful presidency; threats of dynastic succession, unwillingness of politicians to relinquish power after serving their term, and citizen indifference to abuse of power by politicians require new operational approaches by all Africans.”

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