Waiting for News
The polls in Sudan officially closed last Thursday following a two-day extension to voting. The counting of the ballots began the following day, with results initially scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday 20 April. Everybody here believed that to be rather optimistic. The National Election Commission announced today that results would be delayed, unable to set a definite date.
“We cannot set a definite date to announce the results because (the counting) is a very complicated process”
— Hadi Mohammed Ahmed, head the NEC’s technical committee
Preliminary results based on counts from several polling stations (of the tens of thousands around the country) all favour the incumbent president, Omar al-Bashir. This has come as little surprise.
During the election period I have been reading several of the national papers on a daily basis, and the impression one gets is largely of confusion. The quality of these publications leaves much to be desired.
In the run-up to the elections, conflicting stories often appeared in the same publication regarding boycotts of the process. The messages reporting the extension of the voting period, and the subsequent announcement of the results, have also been tainted by uncertainty.
This is without mentioning the often poor level of English, sometimes atrocious type-setting, and at times evangelical tone of certain pieces.
Former US President Jimmy Carter has made the headlines several times, leading a team of election observers from the Carter Centre. Over the weekend a Sudan rights group urged the group to leave the country “before the expected declaration of victory for the National Congress Party (NCP) and its indicted President”, calling on Carter to salvage his reputation.
Both the Carter Centre and the European Union election monitors say that the elections failed to meet full international standards, but concluded that they were a significant step towards democracy.
It’ll be interesting to see how the results will be accepted by the Sudanese here. One gets the impression that many in the West, who are often keen to criticise poor practices (ex. Zimbabwe two years ago), are somewhat holding their tongues during the Sudanese process, presumably not wanting to rock the boat ahead of the referendum next January. All eyes are looking south, and the prospect of the creation of the world’s newest state. If the Southerners want independence — and vote for it — then they will soon be rid of Mr. Bashir. But this leaves the Northerners who don’t want the NCP somewhat in the lurch for the next five years, as the President consolidates his power, the winning of the election giving him some sort of mandate for his policies.
» More photos: Sudanese Elections.