The top United Nations envoy to Sudan today welcomed the peaceful ending of the registration process for next year’s elections, the first multi-party polls in the country in decades, with more than 75 per cent of people of voting age registering to cast their ballots.
More than 15 million people were registered in the most inclusive voter registration exercise ever held in Sudan. Millions registered in person between 1 November and 7 December in centres across the country.
Large parts of the country were unable to take part in elections during the more than two decades of north-south strife, one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil wars, in which at least 2 million people were killed, 4 million others uprooted and 600,000 more fled across the borders.
The staging of elections is one of the key benchmarks of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the long-running war.
“We are now one step closer to the holding of Sudan’s first multi-party elections in 24 years and to achieving a major milestone in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement,” Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said.
He also urged the Sudanese people to help ensure the integrity of the voters’ list by taking part in the so-called “Exhibition and Objection” period, which started on 10 December, when registered voters can confirm their names on the preliminary voters’ list, request corrections for errors and object to the inclusion of ineligible people.
The envoy also called on the National Elections Commission to quickly investigate complaints made by political parties about alleged irregularities, stressing that this is “crucial for the credibility of the exercise.”
In a related development, Mr. Qazi today congratulated the parties to the CPA on reaching agreement on key milestones to the pact, including referendums.
“The road ahead may be long, but this major step forward should make the journey easier,” he stressed.
The new agreement between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SLPM), the signatories to the CPA, allows for the adoption of legislation to govern the referendums in southern Sudan and the oil-rich area of Abyei, as well as the Popular Consultations.
Mr. Qazi today also commended the parties to the pact for their commitment to working together productively and setting up a positive environment to allow the pact to be put into place.
He urged the Government of National Unity to make the most of this agreement between the parties by swiftly implementing legislation, especially by appointing both the Southern and Abyei Referendum Commissions as quickly as possible.
Mr. Qazi, who serves as head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), voiced hope that the latest developments will promote understanding on other outstanding CPA issues, including disputed census results and post-referendum security arrangements.