News / Africa

US Calls Sudan Elections 'Important Milestone' Despite Flaws

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid