Carter predicts successful elections in the Sudan

15 Feb 2010

Carter predicts successful elections in the Sudan

Although there could be difficulties with Sudan's upcoming poll, the National Elections Commission (NEC) had prepared well and the election should be successful, former US president Jimmy Carter said on 11 February.

Speaking at a press conference in the southern capital of Juba, Mr. Carter said, "It will be a good process in which we will be thoroughly involved," adding that he did not believe the election would "prove to be biased".

But he pointed to obvious problems with the country's first poll in 22 years.

The democratic election process would be new for voters 42 years or younger as well as many officials.

"The elections will not be perfect. There will be problems in individual communities in Sudan ... but what we want is that the will of the people is accurately expressed."

The Carter Centre and other observers would condemn those who were responsible if fraud occurred or any citizen was deprived of properly voting at the 22,000 polling stations throughout the country, the former president said.

He added that his centre was the only international observer Sudan had accepted to date, but more should be arriving. According to the NEC, he said, 10 teams from places like the European Union, African Union, South Africa and China were expected to monitor the campaign, election itself and vote counting.

Noting that his organization was experienced in dealing with doubtful or troubled elections, he said the Sudanese people would join its efforts. "I do not have any doubt that the people of Sudan ... are eager to join in with the Carter Centre and other international observers to make sure the election is safe, fair, free and transparent."

As for the poll itself, Mr. Carter said it was possible no presidential contester, including Sudan's current leader Omar Al-Bashir, would receive the absolute majority (50 per cent plus one) vote in the first round, necessitating run-off elections in May.

Turning to his centre's other major concern in Sudan – eradication of the guinea worm, the former president said the number of cases had dropped from about 20,000 in 2006 to the current 2,753.

"We hope we will come back here soon to celebrate the death of the last guinea worm from the face of the earth," said Carter, adding that his organization was assisting about 20 other countries to fight the pandemic In closing, Carter said he and his wife would be attending Sudan's April elections.