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Jimmy Carter, Carter Center Staff Focus on Historic Sudan Elections

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met with Sudanese officials to urge peace and stability in the nation as it prepares for its first multi-party elections in 24 years in April, which the Carter Center’s international election observation team will monitor. The meetings were part of a Feb. 9-12 tour of Sudan, to also encourage the country’s final push toward Guinea worm eradication.

President Carter meets Sudan's opposition leaders.

ALL PHOTOS: THE CARTER CENTER/LOUISE GUBB

President Carter listens to concerns of opposition political party leaders gathered to meet him with their complaints report in Juba. The Carter Center will observe Sudan's multi-party elections in April--the first in 24 years.

President Carter meets Sudan's High Election Committee

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, with Carter Center President and CEO Dr. John Hardman and a Carter Center delegation, meets with the Southern Sudan High Elections Committee in Juba during his Feb. 9-12 tour of Southern Sudan.

President Carter with Carter Center Sudan election staff.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter meets the Carter Center Democracy Program staff in Southern Sudan.

Carter Center Juba office

Carter Center Democracy Program Director Dr. David Carroll (from left), Sudan Domestic Election Observation and Monitoring Programme (SuDEMOP) representative and election observer Lorna Merekaji, Democracy Program Assistant Director Sarah Johnson, and the Center's Domestic Observation Program Director Said Sanadiki discuss Sudan's upcoming multi-party elections at the Carter Center's offices in Juba.

David Carroll receives observation update

Zahra Said Ali, programme coordinator for SuNDE--the Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections--presents a report on observations to Dr. Carroll, Dr. Hardman, and the Carter Center delegation.

Posted in Elections, Sudan

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  • 1

    Rose Hayes on February 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    What is being done to ensure that women are free to go to the polls to vote? I worked in Sudan in the later 60s and early 70s and found women there to have highly restricted opportunities for participation in events outside the home. I would welcome the opportunity to assist with the election monitoring and also with any efforts to encourage the participation of Sudanese women.

  • 2

    The Carter Center on February 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    The participation of women in any voting exercise is a vital aspect of the overall transparency of the process, and early returns show that Sudan has made strides in increasing the involvement of women. The National Elections Act (NEA) of 2008 stipulated that women would have a greater role in the political process, ensuring that a minimum of 25 percent of seats in parliament would be allocated to women. According to the National Elections Commission (NEC), more than half of those who signed up during the voter registration period were women. The Carter Center noted that this participation was proportional to the share of women in the overall population.

    While the rhetoric of the NEA and the strong showing in voter registration is promising, more still needs to be done to ensure that women can take part in all stages of the electoral process. The Carter Center finds it imperative that all governing bodies (the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), the Government of National Unity (GONU) and the NEC do what is necessary to make certain that women have an increased role in all levels of the electoral process. The Center will continue to monitor these issues closely through the elections, acting as a check on electoral partners’ commitment to engaging women in the process.

  • 3

    Josh Kariuki on February 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I believe one of the greatest challenge to the elections especially in the South is the shockingly low literacy levels (estimated at 24%). Consider this in light of the fact that the voters in the South will be asked to fill out 12 separate ballots. UNIFEM carried out a mock voting process that showed that an average ‘educated’ woman in the South will take 36min to complete the process. An illiterate one, and there are over 80% of them in the South, could take upto twice the time.
    Logistical problems like delivering the ballots, counting and tallying them in very remote polling centers obviously exacerbates an already dire situation.
    And due to the many loop holes that the Election laws do not provide for, the Elections Appeals committee will be overwhelmed by petitions. Add to this the likelihood that presidential elections may not yield a clear winner leading into a run-off. We can only hope that all this will not precipitate into post-election violence.
    However, we might just see The Sudan scrape by despite the many challenges, simply because the two main players (NCP and SPLM)have too much to lose if the worse comes to the worst in a post-poll scenario.
    The electoral situation looks grim enough even before throwing the Darfur region into the mix!
    I know this sounds very pessimistic, but am only comparing the current situation in Sudan with that prevailing in Kenya, a relatively stable democracy in the Horn region which, despite a good history of democratic gains almost became a failed state following the 2007 elections.
    Clearly, a lot needs to be done before (no mean task), during and after the April elections.

  • 4

    The Carter Center on February 23, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. President Carter and The Carter Center are working to support the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan, including the peaceful and inclusive conduct of the elections.

    As you note, the April elections in Sudan pose considerable challenges in engaging the Sudanese electorate, and the significance of low levels of literacy should not be understated. During the voter registration process, The Carter Center noted that a failure to develop broad civic education efforts hindered participation at the onset of registration. It also observed that areas with greater civic education programs saw higher numbers of registered voters as the process wore on.

    In its latest public statement, The Carter Center stated that poor civic awareness of voter registration was a serious shortcoming in the electoral process thus far, and urged state elections committees to expand civic education so that all Sudanese may be informed of the electoral process, specifically in the more distant and rural areas where literacy levels are at their lowest. As the election date approaches, greater communication and information sharing will help to ensure that all Sudanese, particularly the illiterate, are better able to understand the complex balloting procedures and fully participate in the electoral process. The Center will continue to publicly stress the need for increased civic awareness by the NEC and other key stakeholders in the process, and work to support a peaceful and inclusive process.

  • 5

    Jacob Goma on February 23, 2010 at 3:15 am

    Political parties should enshrine the quota system for women in their manifestoes as a way of ensuring that the women are accorded enough room to participate in decision making and in politics generally. Women participation should begin at party level. The more women in decision making the more the stride is made to equal representation.

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