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Analyst: Elections are Key to Sudan’s Democratic Transformation

The vote count is underway in Sudan’s presidential, parliamentary and local elections.
This was the first chance for many Sudanese to take part in the democratic process. But many, including international organizations, say overall, the elections were not free and fair.

Accusations of fraud and vote rigging led some political parties to boycott the elections either partially or completely.

But these elections are a significant element in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the civil war, said Paula Roque, a research analyst for the Africa Conflict Prevention Program of the Institute of Security Studies in South Africa.

They are important “to the democratic transformation of Sudan.”
The international community could have put a few building blocks in place, said Roque, due to the highly complex nature of the election, to ensure a smoother process and credibility.

“Apart from the voter registration process, the international community could, for example, have devoted more time and exerted more pressure, perhaps, on the Government of National Unity in the north and the Government of Southern Sudan in the south to have allowed for a greater civic education…. People should know what they are voting for,” she added.

2011 referendum sacrosanct

The referendum mandated by the CPA should not be “touched,” said Roque. “It should not be delayed and it certainly cannot be cancelled.”

Both the SPLM and other southern political parties have made it quite clear, she added, “that the referendum is a “sacrosanct element of a peaceful transition.”

But the whole post-referendum arrangement could be held back should the elections be contested, said Rogue.
“We have a lot of uncertainties at this time in Sudan transition and the elections now if they are contested, which they could be – if there is a cry that there is fraud, and that these were not free and fair elections – then we might have a stagnation in the whole negotiating for the post-referendum arrangement,“ said Roque.