Sudan extends election by 2 days


Problems at some polling stations Monday prompted officials to extend Sudan’s national elections by two days, officials said.

The Times of London reported the voting will wind up Thursday instead of Tuesday. Sudanese officials acted after former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who is one of the independent election monitors, requested the extension to make sure all eligible voters had the opportunity to cast ballots.

“There is a two-day extension throughout the whole country,” The Times quoted Jalal Mohamed Ahmed, secretary-general of the National Elections Commission, as saying.

Meanwhile, four peacekeepers have been missing in South Darfur for 24 hours, The Sudan Tribune reported. The troops, two men and two women, were last seen about 4 p.m. Sunday as they departed their team site just outside Nyala, for a 3-mile trip back to their private accommodations, a representative for the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission said.

Ibrahim Gambari, head of the joint mission, said he was “deeply concerned” about the missing troops and he had been in direct contact with Sudanese government officials.

CNN reported voters at several polling stations in Juba could not find their names on the registry. The U.S. news network also said many people couldn’t comprehend the multiple-level voting forms and were hampered by the absence of the candidates’ photos.

It was taking voters nearly a half-hour to complete the voting process instead of the 3 minutes election commissioners had forecast.

“People cannot find their names on the boards,” said Cirono Hiteng, under-secretary for the Presidential Affairs Ministry. “People are moving from one place to another.”

The election problems also prompted the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to request an extension.

The PLM party previously pulled its presidential candidate from the race, in which Omar al-Bashir is seeking re-election, and allegations of fraud against the ruling National Congress Party have led to calls for an election boycott by opposition parties.

Voting was generally uneventful Sunday in both the southern and northern regions of Sudan, though, voting started hours late at some polling stations in Khartoum because of problems with voting materials, CNN said.

“This is their first experience of democracy,” said Zach Vertin of the International Crisis Group. “People are excited to learn about the process and, particularly in the South, to vote for many of their candidates here.”

Several hundred international observers and 18,000 domestic observers are monitoring the country’s first multiparty election in 24 years.

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