Southern Kordofan elections kick off

3 May 2011

Southern Kordofan elections kick off

2 May 2011– Elections in Southern Kordofan kicked off today with no reports of violence that some had feared might occur on the first day.

The Carter Center issued a statement last week, expressing concerns over security deterioration in the region, urging concerned authorities to ensure a genuine and credible process within the state.

State Elections High Committee Chairperson Adam Abdin emphasized in an interview at the end of last week that the security committee had put in place all measure to ensure no violence would occur. The police are responsible for ensuring security during polling.

"We appeal to the voters to be calm so that the process remains peaceful and credible," Mr. Abdin said.

Foreign diplomats arrived in Southern Kordofan ahead of the polling and appealed for calm and for free and fair elections.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Haile Menkerios met with candidates for the governor position, Ahmed Harun and Abdulaziz al-Hilu, as well as the security committee on 1 May and called for a peaceful and democratic election.

"I told the two candidates and ... the security committee that there is tension and apprehension in the state and that everything should be done to ensure the security of the election," Mr. Menkerios told the press after his meetings. "We will do everything we can to assist in this regard."

The new United States envoy to Sudan, Princeton Lyman, also visited several polling stations in Kadugli today and appealed for calm.

Voters started queuing early for the 8:00 a.m. official start of elections at different polling centres in 32 constituencies around the state.

Business in the state capital Kadugli was closed for much of the morning as people thronged polling centres to cast their votes. Shops and restaurants begun to open again halfway through the day, as voters returned from polling centres.

"It has been very peaceful here," said Ali Ahmed, a Sudan People's Liberation Movement party observer in Kadugli. "We have had no incidents at all."

The Carter Centre declined to comment on the security situation the first day, saying it would issue a statement from its observations when polling comes to an end.

Voting will continue until the 4 May, when counting procedures shall begin. The announcement of final results is tentatively scheduled for 8 May.

The legislature elected will oversee the state's popular consultation process, which is intended to determine whether the country's Comprehensive Peace Agreement has met the aspirations of Southern Kordofan citizens and resolve any outstanding concerns related to the accord's implementation.

Southern Kordofan elections will be the last electoral event required by the 2005 CPA.