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mia farrow

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November 4, 2009

Jimmy Carter's foundation declares Khartoum is obstructing their capacity to monitor elections

Next April a critical presidential and parliamentary election is scheduled to take place in Sudan. The elections are an integral  part of the 2005 peace agreement that ended more than two decades of war between north-and southern Sudan.  The south is where the oil-fields lie-it is also, in the main, populated by Christians. These two ingredients brought focus and international efforts to end the  conflict, but not before two million southerners were killed  and the poverty stricken south was devastated.

The 2005 peace deal set up a transitional unified government based in Khartoum in the north, and Juba in the south.  But the hostilities and a  complete lack of trust between north and south is far from ended. As a core part of the 2005 peace deal,  in 2011 there is to be a referendum in which the south can chose whether to become independent from the north.  Based on my two trips to Southern Sudan, I believe this is what the people of Southern Sudan hope for, although no one believes the north will allow it to happen without a return to war. Remember the oil fields.

 Voter registration officially began this week.
"These elections are supposed to represent a new event in Sudan's history," said Aly Verjee, a Carter Center spokesman. "Observation is important ... to build confidence in the process both nationally and internationally." The Carter Center-based in Atlanta has been invited to monitor the elections.

But permits for the  32 monitors from the Carter Center are being denied or delayed by Khartoum officials.  Funds promised to state-level election committees have not come through, therefore local committees are unable to pay staff.  It is not clear to the people where the registration sites are, and sites are closed arbitrarily. According to the Carter Center, insecurity and intimidations are obstructing international observers from monitoring  registrations for Sudan's first nationwide elections.  

The Carter Center  called on Sudan to disarm militias.  The are asking Khartoum  to revoke the "state of emergency" in the western Darfur region as this will serve to hamper the voting there. Although Sudanese authorities claim voting will take place in Darfur, many are skeptical.

The Carter Center have called upon Sudanese authorities to ensure the observers' freedom of movement. But the team continues to meet obstacles. These many hindrances will diminish the capacity of  the only international group Sudan permitted to monitor the voting — to verify the fairness of the election.

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