As Sudanese elections near, UN voices concern over reports of harassment

23 March 2010

The United Nations expressed concern today about reports that some opposition party members and supporters in Sudan are being harassed, intimidated, arrested or detained ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections slated for next month.

UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky, responding to questions from journalists at UN Headquarters in New York, said the world body is also concerned by the low rate of voter registration among internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

He added that another concern is a series of technical challenges to the vote, such as the logistics of transporting election materials in areas with little infrastructure and how to recruit and train tens of thousands of poll workers.

“We have encouraged the Government of Sudan to address these concerns to ensure that the elections reflect the will of the Sudanese people,” he said.

More than 16 million people, or almost 80 per cent of the estimated voting-age population in Sudan, have registered to cast their ballots and the nominating process for candidates has concluded.

Mr. Nesirky stressed that the elections are a Sudanese process, with the UN providing only technical assistance and limited logistical support – as mandated by the Security Council – to the authorities staging the ballot.

The elections, the first of their kind in 24 years, are taking place five years after the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the long-running north-south civil war in Sudan and led to the introduction of blue helmets serving with a UN peacekeeping mission known as UNMIS.

A separate conflict continues in Darfur, where a joint peacekeeping operation involving the UN and the African Union (known as UNAMID) has been in place since the beginning of 2008.


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