The director of the democracy program at the Carter Center said the arrival Thursday in Khartoum of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter ahead of Sudan’s general election signifies the international community’s interest in the upcoming vote.
David Carroll said President Carter will be leading the Carter Centre’s poll observer team during Sudan’s vote set for April 11-13.
“President Carter and other leaders of our mission will be arriving today Thursday to lead the Carter Center observation team in Sudan,” he said.
This comes after Sudan’s incumbent President Omar Hassan Bashir announced he will grant President Carter and his observer team unlimited access during the vote.
The Sudanese leader had earlier threatened to expel foreign poll observers for “interference” after the carter center suggested a brief delay in the election.
Carroll said President Carter will be leading a team that will be impartial in assessing the vote.
“Our purpose is two-fold. We are trying to show the international community what’s happening in Sudan (and) we are also here to render an assessment as an impartial, credible observer group, about the electoral process that has been unfolding here in Sudan,” Carroll said.
The election, scheduled to begin Sunday, is Sudan’s first in 24 years. The vote forms part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the north and south after years of civil war.
Carroll said the Carter Center’s poll observers have been working in Sudan since last year.
“We’ve been operating in Sudan at the invitation of the government of Sudan and of the election authorities and also under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, which provides for the access of observers…throughout the country,” Carroll said.
The election will see Sudanese vote for a national president, president of the semi-autonomous southern Sudan, national assembly as well as local and governors.
Carroll said incumbent President al-Bashir has clarified his previous pronouncement about expelling international observers after accusing them of “interference”.
“We were concerned about some of the remarks made in the past week made by President Bashir, but he has clarified his statements recently that we will have complete access and our observers will be able to carry out their work," Carroll said.