News / Africa

US Calls Sudan Elections 'Important Milestone' Despite Flaws

The State Department on Monday called Sudan's national elections an important milestone in the country's peace process, but said the Khartoum government could have done more to assure a free and fair process.  U.S. Sudan activists say the vote is a setback for the African country and should have been postponed.  

Officials here are acknowledging shortcomings in the Sudanese election process, which they say are understandable given that it was country's first national voting in 24 years.

But they say on balance, the United States supports the decision to go ahead with the ballot, despite full or partial boycotts by some opposition groups.

State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley called the multi-level national elections "an important step" for Sudan.

At the same time, he said the Khartoum government could have done a better job of preparing for the voting, which is a critical prelude to a referendum next January on the political future of southern Sudan.

"There is certainly more that the government of Sudan could have done and should have done to create an appropriate environment for the election," said Crowley.  "But beyond that, we think the people of Sudan want to see this election take place.  That's one of the reasons why we have supported this election as part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  And this election is an important milestone because it is the first of a number of steps that Sudan is going to take in determining it future."

Crowley said U.S. Sudan envoy Scott Gration is en route back to Washington to report to administration officials after several days of mediation between Sudanese government and opposition officials on pre-election disputes.

He said the United States supports the two-day extension of the vote because of polling place delays and other problems, and said U.S. officials will not make an overall judgment on the fairness of the process until after U.S., international and local observers make final reports.

But U.S. Sudan and Darfur activists are quick to condemn the Khartoum government's conduct during the election campaign, including the exclusion of opposition leaders from the official news media.

John Norris, director of the "Enough" project on Sudan at the Center for American Progress, says it is evident that the election represents a "tremendous lost opportunity" for the people of Sudan and its north-south peace process.

"It has been clear for some time now that the environment for the election in Sudan is neither free nor fair," said Norris.  "The national security laws still allow arbitrary detention.  Opposition politicians are still arbitrarily detained and fairly regularly so.  There is not free access to the media.  There is not free assembly.  The security situation in Darfur is sufficiently bad that EU monitors pulled out of that area.  So I think this is a moment that we should look to with some sadness."

Norris says he can understand why U.S. and other diplomats are eager to call the election acceptable and move on to the business of the January referendum.

But he said it is a "dangerous tendency" that not only assures the secession of southern Sudan, but also sows the seeds of future conflict in the north.

Mark Lotwis, acting president of the Save Darfur Coalition, says he is relieved that there has been no significant election-related violence.

But he criticizes what he calls the "intimidating" presence" at the polls of security forces reporting directly to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and says the Obama administration should declare results of the election illegitimate.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid