Sunday, May 2, 2010

Elections in Sudan

According to the 2005 peace agreement election for the different political organs should take place as part of the process. The peace agreement covers a 6-year period with the understanding that both parties from North and South should work towards unity. For this reason, it is important that elections take place so people in both North and South feel represented during the political discussions. Circumstances have unfortunately lead to a delay in the elections and people are already now more interested in the January 2011 referendum that will determine if South Sudan will become an independent country. The momentum for ensuring a united Sudan has passed making this election a bit of a farce. Also, it should be noted that when the peace agreement was negotiated none of the parties were supportive of the idea of elections – it was a demand from the international community who has a tendency to see democratic elections as equal to peace (Afghanistan, Iraq and now Sudan)

But the peace agreement must be respected and the first democratic elections in 24 years were undertaken in April. In South there was election for no less that 12 different posts (this includes president in Unity, president in semi-autonoms South, parliament in Unity and South, governor and state assembly)! This would have been a challenge in an established democracy and in South Sudan with little access to information and many illiterate is was quite a task. At the end, the voting period was extended from 3 to 5 days so that everyone had a change to vote and all things considered things went pretty well.

The resulst was rather predictable; Bashir won as president of the Unity government (yes, that Bashir, the guy with an international arrest warrant from ICC for crimies against humanity in Darfur) and Salva Kiir, leader of SPLM, won in the South (SPLM is the political wing of Sudan Peoples Liberation Army and co-signature of the peace agreement). However, the election for governor in the ten States of the South showed some disturbing tendencies with an SPLM that is weakened by poor leadership and tribal fractions. In the name of democracy this can be seen as positive but when keeping in mind that South Sudan could become independent in January 2011 it is important to have a strong leadership with support from the population to avoid the first chapter in South Sudans story as independent nation to be starting with civil war. Still, the election was an important step but there is a long way to go till the people of South Sudan reaches a “happy ending”…

For the Sudanese Red Crescent it was a busy time. The government had requested support in terms of volunteers ready to provide first aid when needed – in all parts of the country. Luckily, the situation remained peaceful most places, but during times of disturbance the volunteers did an excellent job.

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