Sudan threatens to expel election observers
Sudan on Monday threatened to expel foreign observers after rejecting their call to delay the country’s first multiparty polls in 24 years over concerns about the way they are being organised.
President Omar al-Bashir issued the warning in an address to supporters in the eastern city of Port Sudan after the electoral commission decided to press ahead and stage the elections next month as planned.
“We have accepted the arrival of foreign observers for the elections. But if they ask that the vote be postponed, we will expel them,” al-Bashir said in the speech broadcast on television.
“We expect observers to say whether the elections are free and fair, but if they intervene in our affairs, then we will cut off their fingers and crush them under our shoes,” he said.
Al-Bashir, who the International Criminal Court wants for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, was referring to observers from the Carter Centre.
Sudan had given permission to the centre, founded by former United States president Jimmy Carter, to observe the presidential, legislative and local elections set to be held from April 11 to 13.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) on Monday dismissed a call by the Carter Centre for the polls to be postponed because of what it said was the NEC’s “limited capacity” to organise them.
Commission deputy chairperson Ahmed Abdallah said “the Carter Centre relies on false information that did not come from us”.
“Publishing this information could have a negative impact on the electoral process,” the NEC official told reporters.
Opposition parties had already called for a delay to the elections—a key provision of the 2005 peace accord between the mainly Muslim north and mostly Christian or animist south that brought two decades of civil war to an end.
Human Rights Watch said on Sunday that Sudanese government repression of its opponents and the media was threatening the chances of the elections being “free, fair, and credible”.
The vote is the first genuine electoral challenge faced by al-Bashir, who came to power in a military coup in 1989, three years after Sudan’s last multiparty poll.
Opponents of al-Bashir say he has a head start in the presidential race due to his access to state media in Sudan, Africa’s largest country, covering 2,5-million square kilometres, and with a population of more than 40-million.—AFP.