- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Obama administration on Tuesday criticized Sudan’s National Elections Commission for failing to prevent problems during last week’s elections, saying the process was marred by “serious irregularities.”

A statement released by the White House press secretary’s office said the U.S. had made note of the “initial assessment of independent electoral observers that Sudan’s elections did not meet international standards.”

“Political rights and freedoms were circumscribed throughout the electoral process, there were reports of intimidation and threats of violence in South Sudan, ongoing conflict in Darfur did not permit an environment conducive to acceptable elections, and inadequacies in technical preparations for the vote resulted in serious irregularities,” the statement said. “The United States regrets that Sudan’s National Elections Commission did not do more to prevent and address such problems prior to voting.”

Major opposition parties, including the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Umma Party, boycotted the vote in north Sudan, accusing President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of trying to rig the vote.


Similar concerns were raised by international groups monitoring the situation in Sudan. Brussels-based International Crisis Group had warned that an election under the present circumstances would have “catastrophic consequences” for Sudan.

The elections were mandated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 and are a step toward a referendum on southern independence scheduled for January. The White House statement described the elections as an essential step in a process laid out by the CPA.

Former President Jimmy Carter was among those monitoring the elections in Sudan.

Over the weekend, the Carter Center said it was “apparent that the elections will fall short of meeting international standards and Sudan’s obligations for genuine elections in many respects.”

Mr. Bashir, a popular leader in Sudan, is widely expected to win an overwhelming majority in the lopsided contest. He has been indicted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur.

Despite concerns over the fairness of the vote, the White House commended the people of Sudan for their efforts to make Sudan’s first multi-party elections in more than two decades “peaceful and meaningful.”