SUDAN WATCH: Mia Bittar's Wow Women film - Women's Votes (Julie Flint) - EU US Observers: Standards of Sudan's election fall short

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mia Bittar's Wow Women film - Women's Votes (Julie Flint) - EU US Observers: Standards of Sudan's election fall short

WARM THANKS to a Sudan Watch reader in Khartoum, Sudan for sending in this 3 minute visual poem that weaves together images of Sudanese women artists in Khartoum. Honouring positive and powerful ...
Wow Women by Mia Bittar

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Quote of the Day
"I particularly remember one young Nuer woman who told the men: “This war is your fault. We women are tired of giving birth to children only to see them slaughtered.” All the female delegates applauded her when she proposed a “revolution” of her own. “We will stop giving birth!” - Julie Flint, 16 April 2010 (see report below)
For the record, here is a copy of Julie Flint's great comment posted at Alex de Waal's blog, Making Sense of Sudan, in reply to his blog post 15 April 2010 Women's Votes.
Julie Flint:
April 16th, 2010

Alex, how interesting that women in the Darfur camps not only voted more than men, you say, but that they voted at all, with Abdul Wahid so strongly in favour of a boycott. Do you know what the voting pattern in the camps tells us about Abdul Wahid’s support there these days? Many people are saying that JEM stopped voters in areas under its control. Was there any coercion in the camps?

The interest of women in voting – and presumably in a negotiated rather than violent settlement of conflict – reflects the experience of the church-supported people-to-people peace process in southern Sudan, where the dynamism and determination of women was very apparent. They really gave the SPLA a bashing. I particularly remember one young Nuer woman who told the men: “This war is your fault. We women are tired of giving birth to children only to see them slaughtered.” All the female delegates applauded her when she proposed a “revolution” of her own. “We will stop giving birth!”

A good friend of mine, Awut Deng, walked 30 miles to mobilize women – despite being in the difficult early stages of pregnancy – because the New Sudan Council of Churches organising the process had no budget for mobilization. Everywhere she went women told her they wanted peace because their children were dying. As one delegate said, “In the past we fought over cows, but only fighters died. Now even children and women are killed.” I imagine the thinking of women in the Darfur camps is not so different.

Awut spoke anywhere and everywhere. She interrupted the work of courts to ask: “May I speak?” She spoke to students and teachers in schools. She invited herself to the naming of children. She used, she told me, “any little corner I could find.” She slept in the bush and in the street and went without food for days.

If your impression is correct – you don’t give any details – surely one conclusion must be that more effort must be put into supporting a peace constituency of youth, women and other members of civil society, to limit the margin of manoeuvre of the soldiers and politicians, especially given the late-in-the-day preference of so many of the latter for boycott – unsupported, as far as I can see, by any back-up plan. Viewed from Khartoum, is the plan as it seems to be from here – that there is no plan?
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Note from Sudan Watch Editor
If anyone reading this has emailed me and not received a reply, please forgive me. I have had health and computer problems while monitoring news on Sudan's elections and now must take a break.

Thanks to a reader of Sudan Watch for kindly sending in a report from by Marc Gustafson that is "based on months of interviews with government officials and assessments of government documents about the creation of electoral districts. The report exposes some violations of Sudan's new laws and calls attention to some ways in which the elections might be manipulated."

Thumbs up to SRS, BBC, VOA, UN News Centre, UNAMID, UNMIS, RNW, Xinhua - Thumbs down to Sudan Tribune and Reuters' Opheera McDoom (and their followers blogging at Save Darfur & Enough)

In my view, the majority of journalists and bloggers reporting on Sudan's elections have acted jaw droppingly irresponsibly. The only reports from Reuters on Sudan that I trust are those by British journalist Andrew Heavens in Sudan. France based Sudan Tribune is a clearing house for rebel press releases and anti-government propaganda. So far, I have found that the most accurate news reports are from SRS (Sudan Radio Service), BBC News, UN News Centre, VOA and China's Xinhua News Agency, to name a few. Whenever Sudan watchers read a news report on Sudan, I hope they do a search at Google news to see what else is being reported and sleep on it before jumping to wrong conclusions and spreading dangerous propaganda and inaccurate news.


AU chief hails peaceful Sudan polls
From Agence France-Presse (AFP) - Saturday, 17 April 2010 13:31:
(ADDIS ABABA) - African Union chief Jean Ping hailed Sudan on Saturday for "peacefully conducted" elections as Khartoum kicked off vote-counting after five days of balloting.

Ping "wishes to commend the people of the Sudan and Sudanese political parties for peacefully conducting the just-concluded multi-party general elections," the bloc said in a statement.

"These elections constitute a fundamental milestone towards realising (its) democratic transformation ... as espoused by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement," it added.

Khartoum and its southern half signed the deal which provided for both the elections and the referendum, ending a bitter decades-long civil war that left around two million dead and some four million displaced.

Ping noted that the polls "were faced by administrative and logistical problems", but he hailed the electoral board for its efforts to address the shortcomings.

The African nation's first multi-party election in over two decades took place from Sunday to Thursday when Sudanese voted to elect their president as well as legislative and local representatives.

Southerners also voted for the leader of the semi-autonomous government of south Sudan.

Results are expected around April 20.
Sudan elections 'failed' to meet international norms
From BBC News online - Saturday, 17 April 2010 15:47 UK - excerpt:
Two international organisations monitoring the elections in Sudan say the controversial polls failed to meet full international standards. The EU and the Carter Center, led by former US President Jimmy Carter, said there were significant failings, citing reports of intimidation and harassment. However, both concluded the polls were a significant step towards democracy.

"It is obvious that the elections will fall short of international standards that are expected of advanced democracies... The people's expectations have not been met," former US president Jimmy Carter told a news conference.

"Turnout is very high, 60%, but with significant deficiencies," said EU mission chief Veronique de Keyser at a news conference in Khartoum. "These elections did not reach international standards, not yet."

Neither of the observer groups called for a re-vote, but recommended instead that the lessons learned be applied to next year's key referendum on Southern Sudan's independence.
Observers: Sudan Election Failed to Meet International Standards
From The Voice of America (VOA) - Saturday, 17 April 2010 - excerpt:
The European Union monitoring mission in Sudan and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Saturday that the elections fall short of international standards because of widespread problems.

During the five-day vote, observers reported a series of problems, including intimidation, incomplete voter lists and a shortage of voting materials.

Opposition groups have also complained. Several parties partially or fully boycotted the vote, including southern Sudan's main party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. And some groups accused the ruling National Congress Party of planning to rig the results.

Final results are expected to be announced Tuesday.

Some Sudanese officials defended the election Saturday, saying it was unfair to expect Sudan to meet international standards. A member of the National Elections Commission said officials had done their best for a war-torn country with little electoral experience.
Standard of Sudan elections fall short
From Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) - Saturday, 17 April 2010 - 1:21pm
The elections held in Sudan earlier this week did not meet international standards.

Nevertheless, they were an important step in the democratisation process says Veronique de Keyser, head of the European Union observer mission in the east African country. People in South Sudan were able to vote for their own autonomous leader.

The three-day elections for the presidency, the parliament and local government were extended by two days because of logistical problems and delays. The turnout for the elections, the first in 20 years in which several parties could take part, was 60 percent. However, the legitimacy of the poll was brought into question when President Omar el-Bashir's two main rivals withdrew from the running.
News from SRS - Sudan Radio Service - Saturday, 17 April 2010:

NEC Announces Election Re-run in 17 Constituencies
16 April 2010 - (Khartoum) – The deputy chairman of the National Elections Commission, Prof. Abdallah Ahmed Abdallah, says there will be a repeat of the elections in 17 constituencies within sixty days due to errors in the distribution of ballot papers. Speaking to SRS in Khartoum on Thursday, Abdallah said that ballot boxes were misplaced in these constituencies. Full story

EU Observers Declare Elections Did Not Meet International Standards
17 April 2010 - ( Khartoum) – The European Union Elections Observation Mission to Sudan says that Sudan's elections did not meet international standards. The EU-EOM Chief Observer, Veronique de Keyser, addressed a press conference on Saturday in Khartoum.

[Veronique de Keyser]: “It is difficult to compare this elections with other elections, taking into account the particularities of the voting, the history of this country, the stakes and the future. But in terms of the methodology that have been applied by the European Union which is very strict I can only say that these elections have struggled to reach international standards. However, in the process, there were signs of a more democratic future. For instance, the withdrawal of a great part of the opposition in the north strongly reduced the competition in the moment of voting but not the interest during the electoral campaign. The observers have been the direct witnesses of the democratic space that was open to the parties.”

De Keyser said the ruling parties in both northern Sudan and southern Sudan dominated the elections.

[Veronique de Keyser]: “These elections have suffered from significant deficiencies but it has to be taken into account that the Sudan is immense and that these elections are the first in 24 years. In the north and the south these elections have been dominated by the parties in power. The serious incidents during the campaign have been sporadic, with reports of intimidation and harassment of some candidates.”

De Keyser said the EU-EOM will continue to observe the counting of ballots nationwide and will make its final recommendations after the announcement of the final results of the elections.
NCP Rejects EU Observer Statement
17 April 2010 - (Khartoum) – The spokesperson for the National Congress Party reacted strongly to the EU observer statement, Fathi Sheela says that it’s too early to judge the elections in Sudan. Full story

Carter Center Critical of Elections Procedures
17 April 2010 - (Khartoum) – The Carter Center says that Sudan’s elections have fallen short of international standards because of major flaws in the polling process all over the country. The former US President and founder of the Carter Center, Jimmy Carter, held a press conference in Khartoum on Saturday. Full story

No Security Problems in Darfur During Voting Says HEC
17 April 2010 - (Khartoum) – The High Elections Committee in Darfur state says there were no security problems in the state during the counting of the ballots. The chairman of the High Elections Committee in Northern Darfur, Al-Sir Ahmed Al-Mek spoke to SRS on Saturday from Northern Darfur. Full story

Counting Delayed in Unity State As Pay Dispute Continues
17 April 2010 - (Bentiu) – Counting of votes in Unity state began on Friday with some delay due to complaints from elections officials about unpaid wages. Our reporter Clement Wani who is in Unity state sent us this report. Full story

SHEC Staff in Juba Refuse to Begin Count Until Salaries Arrive
16 April 2010 - (Juba) – Staff of State High Election Committee at Mayo Primary School polling centre in Juba have refused to count the ballots because their allowances have not been paid by NEC. The head of the polling station, Simon Saki, explained to SRS what happened: Full story

Failure to Pay Arrears Delays Count in Unity
16 April 2010 - (Bentiu) – An official from the State High Elections Committee in Unity state, Michael Mayar Mading, said that they have started counting the ballot papers. Speaking to SRS by telephone, Mayar Mading said party agents should remain calm until the winners are announced. Full story

Musician Attacked in Juba
16 April 2010 - (Juba) – A prominent southern Sudanese musician was the victim of an assassination attempt early on Friday morning. He was hit in the chest by a hand grenade thrown by an unknown assailant outside his house at Hai Jeberona in Juba. The grenade failed to detonate. Speaking to SRS in Juba, Kang John Jok, popularly known as Kang J.J., explains how the incident occurred. Full story

News from SRS - Sudan Radio Service - Thursday, 15 April 2010:

Polling Stations Close at 6pm Thursday 15 April
15 April 2010 - (Khartoum) – The National Elections Commission has signaled the end of the voting process. Voting officially ended on Thursday at 6pm. The deputy chairman of the NEC, Prof. Abdallah Ahmed Abdallah, made the announcement during a press conference on Wednesday in Khartoum. Full story

Insecurity, Logistics and Water Shortages Prevent Voting in Yirol East
15 April 2010 - (Juba) – Many of the voters in Yirol East county were unable to cast their ballots due to insecurity in the area. Our reporter Mageng Wade is in Yirol East and he sent this report. Full story

WES Vote Counting Begins Friday Amidst Complaints By Unpaid Election Officials
15 April 2010 - (Yambio) – The Chairman of the High Elections Committee in Western Equatoria state, Lawrence Suluvia, says counting of votes from all polling stations will start on Friday. Suluvia spoke to SRS in Yambio on Wednesday. Full story

Foreigner Traders in Juba Urge Sudanese to Remain Calm When Results Are Announced
15 April 2010 - (Juba) – Foreign traders in Juba are urging Sudanese not to react violently when the election results are announced. SRS spoke to some foreigner traders in Juba on Wednesday. Full story

Al-Bashir Still To Face ICC Charges Even if Re-elected
15 April 2010 - (Nairobi) – President al-Bashir will still face charges at the International Criminal Court even if he is re-elected. An ICC lawyer, Abd Al-Hadi Shalouf, told SRS on Wednesday by phone from The Hague that al-Bashir will still have to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Full story

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