By Paul Ndiho
March 23, 2010
Sudan’s National Elections Commission is carrying out voter education to reach various groups of would-be voters in both urban and rural areas ahead of April elections, which observers say may have to be postponed due to logistical delays.
Sudan is preparing for some of the most complex elections with 8 ballots expected to be cast in the north and 12 in the south by each voter. Some 16 million party supporters and voters countrywide will need to aware of the various polling stages ahead of the Sudan’s first multi-party election in 24 years.
The National Elections Commission, the N-E-C, made voter education one of its priorities and hopes to reach various groups of would-be voters in all areas.
In Khartoum State, workshops, mock polling simulation and mock ballot papers are being used to aid voter education.
“The work has not been easy. As we know, nearly 16 million people have registered but all of them are not in the same level of awareness and education in order for the elections to be successful. Because this is a democratic transformation process, we need all Sudanese to participate without any confusion, especially those who have registered.”
But observers say that the polls, already been delayed several, could be postponed again due to logistical difficulties.
The non-governmental Carter Centre, says that elections remain “at risk on multiple fronts,” and urges Sudan to lift harsh restrictions on rallies and end fighting in Darfur ahead of the ballot.
Voting is due to start in Africa’s largest country on April 11 in elections promised under a 2005 North/ South peace deal. Reena Hassan Mustafa, participated in the voter training exercises, and is ready to train others as well.
“We have come to be trained so that we can go and train others as well. We will tell them about elections and how to cast their votes.”
Close to two million people have registered to vote in Khatoum state and other constituencies.
Opposition parties have called for the elections to be postponed. But the two main parties in Sudan’s ruling coalition have resisted the call. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the main party in south Sudan, says any substantial delay could threaten a January 2011 referendum on southern secession.
By Paul Ndiho