The role of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) was to support the authorities in ensuring credible elections while it was not mandated to monitor them, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Sudan, Haile Menkerios emphasized in his first press conference on 28 March in Khartoum.
"This is probably the most crucial period in Sudan's history since its independence in 1956", SRSG Menkerios said in his opening remarks to journalists.
The conduct of national elections slated for this April was the next critical benchmark in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement's (CPA) implementation, Mr. Menkerios said, adding that UNMIS was providing technical and logistical assistance to the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the elections' timely conduct.
In addition, the mission trained almost 24,000 police officers – about 17,000 in the north and 7,000 in the south – to enhance security during the elections period, Mr. Menkerios said.
Ensuring security was an extremely important task, SRSG Menkerios said, adding that areas of possible conflict included parts of Darfur, the border areas between the north and the south, and some areas in Southern Sudan.
Asking journalists' for accurate reporting on UNMIS' role related to elections, Mr. Menkerios stressed that "the United Nations does not have a monitoring role," but there were NEC-accredited international and national observer groups tasked with monitoring.
He also added that the elections would have two inseparable functions: besides being required by the CPA, "they are intended to usher in a democratic process in Sudan," which would on the long term lead to a widening of political space and to broader public participation in the country's governance.
SRSG Menkerios finally encouraged all Sudanese to exercise their right to vote in a free and fair atmosphere and urged the Government, the political parties and the NEC to ensure that this was possible.