Sudan Elections Were Unfair, says Church Leader

The head of the one of the largest church organizations in Sudan has cast his doubts over whether the recent elections in the country were as fair as some claim them to be.

"The view of the Church is that the whole exercise is one that cannot be described as free and fair," the Rev. Ramadan Chan Liol, general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches, told Ecumenical News International (ENI) on April 14.

"There are too many challenges. Peoples' names are missing from the registers. They are scattered in different rolls in different towns," he added.

Sudan's elections, the first in the country in 24 years, ended today after five days of polling. The votes are scheduled to be tallied on Friday.

Logistical problems and claims of corruption against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) marred the voting period.

Opposition parties, including the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), boycotted the elections in the northern region and withdrew their candidates prior to the voting.

Bouts of violence also erupted during the election, with the NCP reporting that nine of its officials were killed in an attack by the southern army.

Incumbent Presidents Omar al-Bashir of the northern region and SPLM head Salva Kiir of the semi-autonomous southern region are likely to be re-elected.

The vote comes ahead of a referendum for a split between the country's two regions, which will be decided on next year.

In a meeting prior to the election, over 60 leaders from Sudanese Churches gathered to discuss the "kairos moment" facing the country.

"After the referendum in 2011 Sudan will never be the same again, whether it remains united or becomes two countries," a communiqué after the meeting read. "Time is short and urgent
reflection and action are needed to ensure a peaceful future."

The group declared that after the elections "all parties must accept the results," and that if there are grievances or disputes, they must be solved by "legal means, not by violence."

The church leaders also expressed concern about the increasing violence in the south and in Darfur and the delays in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), and called on the international community to "continue its commitment to rehabilitation and reconstruction."

"The Church cares about the freedom, dignity and human rights of all the people of Sudan, whether in the north or the south, and encourages a spirit of good neighbourliness and cooperation," the communiqué reads.

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