SUDAN WATCH: EU considers withdrawing Darfur poll observers - EU election monitors pull out of Darfur: AFP reporter

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

EU considers withdrawing Darfur poll observers - EU election monitors pull out of Darfur: AFP reporter

THE people of Sudan have had five years to prepare for the elections April 11. Soon the rainy season will arrive in Sudan, making many roads impassable. If one considers the possibility that gun toting anti-government groups in Sudan are all part of one group aiming to topple the Sudanese government by force, surely any delay in Sudan's elections (part of the CPA) plays into their hands. As noted here last week, the Darfur elections can be held at a later date:
[Paul Wesson, UK election observer in Sudan]: “I think the issue is that in the whole country you have 17 million people having an election and the election should not be delayed because of the actions of a few thousands people in one area. But if there is no election in that area, then that can be dealt with at a later stage, but the important thing is to have elections for the 17 million people — yes, the electorate is 17 million people - and the tribal conflicts are carried by a few thousand people who perhaps don’t have the national picture in their minds. It is possible that if an election doesn’t take place in one state or in one constituency it could be held separately at a later stage. The important thing is that the main election takes place.”
Bearing in mind that 70% of Sudanese citizens are illiterate, and al-Qaeda and its ilk are in Sudan, I think the Sudanese government deserves credit for Sudan not turning into a Somalia.

It seems to me that recent threats by Sudan's president to cut off the noses, necks, fingers, etc., of those who demand that elections be delayed, are figures of speech. I can think of a few strange phrases used by Westerners that might seem threatening when translated into Arabic.

Here in England, a general election is scheduled for May 6. I live in an area where the party I shall be voting for could never win. But it does not discourage me from voting.

Many brave people have given their lives for our freedom to vote. Boycotting elections or abstaining from voting is an insult to those who fought for, and died for, our right to vote.

Talking about strange phrases, here's one that springs to mind when I think of Sudanese rebels who refuse to face elections: "Sh*t or get off the pot".

EU considers withdrawing Darfur poll observers
From Reuters by Andrew Heavens Wed Apr 7, 2010 9:43am GMT - excerpt:
(EL-FASHER, Sudan) - The European Union said on Wednesday said it was considering withdrawing its election observers from Sudan's Darfur region over fears for their safety and restrictions on their work. [...]

"We are considering withdrawing the observers (from Darfur)," said Veronique De Keyser, who heads the EU's election mission in Sudan. "The safety of some of the observers in some remote parts of the country is a very big concern for me. I am also concerned about our ability to observe."

"In some parts of Darfur the violence is terrible. The humanitarians cannot access this area. And if aid cannot access, we cannot access," she told reporters as she flew into el-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, to meet her six-strong team in the remote western region.

"We can only have a very partial view, so how can we observe properly in Darfur? The credibility of the mission is at stake. People have been asking how can you observe in Darfur, and this is a question I have to answer."

De Keyser said she was particularly worried after Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir threatened to expel international observers who pushed for a delay in the ballot. Bashir has threatened to cut off their fingers and tongues.

"You don't usually treat international observers you have invited like that. ... It doesn't reflect the traditional hospitality of the Arab world," she said. [...]

South Sudan's main party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, pulled out of elections in most north Sudan states on Tuesday, citing widespread fraud in the build up to the vote and the insecurity in Darfur.

Other small opposition parties have followed suit but the large Umma party on Wednesday was still discussing how far to follow suit.

De Keyser said it was too early to judge the impact of the withdrawals on the credibility of the elections.
Sudan Journalists Lament Lack of Civic Education in Up-coming Polls
Voice of America - Wednesday 07 April 2010
Manyang Mayum, a journalist with The Sudan Tribune denied reports that the elections could be postponed, saying that “if the election is pushed back, it will affect the referendum and hence the chances of secession.” Al-Bashir sent just such a message during a recent campaign stop.

EU election monitors pull out of Darfur: AFP reporter
EUbusiness.com 07 April 2010, 18:32 CET
(KHARTOUM) - European Union monitors stationed in the western Sudanese region of Darfur left the war-torn region on Wednesday ahead of Sunday's elections, said an AFP reporter travelling with them. "I have decided to go back with all the team of six observers that were still in Darfur," EU head of mission Veronique de Keyser told reporters on the plane.

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