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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora