Sudan: AU and Arab League back election results

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Contrary to reports by the European Union and the Carter Center observers on Sudan’s first elections in over 20 years, the African Union team of observers has given credit to the electoral process saying the elections were free and fair taking the context into consideration.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the head of the African Union observer’s mission, Mr. Kunle Adeyemi said that: “It was not a perfect election… but it was a historic one. Looking into the fact this is a country that had not had a multi-party election for almost a generation… to say they are free and fair, to the best of our knowledge we have no reason to think the contrary.”

On Saturday 70 observers from the Carter Centre headed by former US president Jimmy Carter, along with 130 European Union (EU) observers concluded that the vote was below international standards.

The international observers pointed out that there were significant failings, intimidation and harassment of voters and candidates. But the African Union as well as the Arab League have observed otherwise. “We have not found evidence of fraud… we saw a vote that was very transparent,” Mr. Adeyemi added.

According to the mission of 50 Arab League observers, the elections showed a significant progress in democracy amongst the Arab states.

“The elections did not meet international standards but they are a big step forward compared to other countries in the region. We want Sudan to be an example for other African and Arab countries. If the elections did not meet all the international standards, it does not minimize the experience of democratic transformation for Sudan,” Salah Halima, head of the Arab League observers was quoted as saying.

Incumbent president, Mr. Omar al-Bashir is most likely to be re-elected as president. He came to power in a military coup in 1989, and has an impending arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan.

“The Sudanese government has opened up space of democracy and we must make the most of it. They were an achievement despite the deficiencies. There was no evidence of fraud, but there were deficiencies and mistakes. These mistakes however do not greatly affect the results,” Halima added.

According to analysts however, the conclusion reached by EU and Carter Center observers is not negative enough to disrupt the country. The international observers agreed that the polls were a significant step towards democracy.

Reports say, President al-Bashir will be able to celebrate a crushing victory in the presidential race, in which his two major rivals dropped out. Mr. Carter’s belief that the international community will recognize the victors is arguably the most important aspect of the results.

Run-up to next January’s referendum on possible southern independence is next on the mind of Sudanese.

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