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African civil society raise concern over AU monitoring of Sudan election

April 15 - 2015 CAIRO
AU flag
AU flag

A group of 25 African and Sudanese civil society organisations have sent a letter to the AU Commission and the AU High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) for Sudan, expressing their “deep concern” about the decision by the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to send a an electoral observation mission to Sudan.

The organisations* state that the AUPSC decision last week to send a mission, headed by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, to monitor the 13-15 April presidential and parliamentary election in Sudan, directly contradicts the recommendations of the AU’s own pre-election assessment panel.

Last month, an AU evaluation panel, tasked with assessing the pre-election environment, said in its report that “the necessary conditions and environment for the holding of transparent, competitive, free and fair elections, as agreed in the AU Principles Governing Democratic Election, have not been satisfied.

“The prevailing situation in the country and the negative impact these elections would have on the national dialogue process [..], it is the considered view of the assessment team that deploying an AU Elections Observation Mission under this circumstance would not be viable and effective.”

The AU panel called for the postponement of the election, to “allow more time for the creation of an enabling environment for credible, transparent, and competitive election following the National Dialogue, as elaborated in the Communiqué of the AUPSC during its 456th Meeting on the report of the AUHIP for Sudan and South Sudan”.

The AU deployed 20 short-term observers from 14 African countries to cover seven Sudanese states.


The 25 organisations point to the “continued intransigence on the part of the Government of Sudan, and its refusal to participate in a pre-dialogue preparatory meeting convened by the AUHIP in late-March, [which] has resulted in the failure of its own ostensible desire to hold a National Dialogue”.

They state that the government’s refusal to attend the pre-dialogue meeting, “is in direct contravention of the AUPSC’s September 2014 Communiqué 456, which called for such a meeting, and is leading to a total collapse of the AU’s efforts to facilitate and mediate for a negotiated settlement of Sudan’s crises”.

‘Objective reporting’

In the letter, they call on Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, head of the AU Commission, and AUHIP chairman Thabo Mbeki, “to ensure that the AU does not legitimise a process aimed at prolonging the Government of Sudan’s continued political, human rights, and humanitarian abuses and which is grossly inconsistent with the standards of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, and exacerbates the root causes of Sudan’s problems, and undermines all progress over the past year to bring about a comprehensive negotiated settlement to the country’s multiple crises.

“While we do not endorse the decision to deploy the mission, it must report objectively and accurately on structural flaws in the election process.”

‘Inclusive National Dialogue’

The organisations further demand that “the Government of Sudan participate in a genuine, transparent, and inclusive National Dialogue, facilitated by independent and neutral moderators, that leads to a transitional period ending in participatory elections”.

They stress that the process “must be inclusive and cannot exclusively happen inside Sudan, in order to allow for all interested stakeholders to participate”.

* The letter to the AU is coordinated by the Arab Coalition for Sudan in Cairo, Egypt, and undersigned by the Africa Friends Association - Tunisia; African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies  - Uganda; ElKhatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment - Sudan; Arab Programme for Human Rights Activists - Egypt; Arab Coalition for Sudan; Arab Network for Human Rights Information - Egypt; Arab Organisation for Human Rights - Libya; Arab Organisation for Human Rights - Mauritania; Arab Institute for Democracy - Tunisia; Algeria League for Defense of Human Rights - Algeria; Civil Society Initiative - Sudan; Conscience International - Sierra Leone; Darfur Bar Association - Sudan; Governance Bureau - Sudan; Human Rights Development Organisation - Sudan; International Refugee Rights Initiative - Uganda; Journalists for Human Rights - Sudan; Kamma Organisation for Development Initiatives - Sudan; Lawyers for Human Rights - South Africa; Nuba Relief Rehabilitation and Development Organisation - Sudan; Regional Centre for the Development of Civil Society - Sudan; SOS Exclusion - Cote d’Ivoire; Sudan Consortium; Sudan Democracy First Group - Sudan, and Zarga Organisation for Rural Development - Sudan.


Last week, prominent Darfuri scholar Ahmed Hussain Adam called the AU decision to send an electoral monitoring mission “a very regrettable move and utterly unacceptable”.

In a statement received by Radio Dabanga, Adam said that the pan-African body, by approving the mission, “clearly violates the very principles and guidelines of the AU”.

The AU Declaration on Principles Governing Democratic Election in Africa of 2002 “sets out clear guidelines, principles, and conditions for free and fair elections. None of those principles and guidelines [..] are met by Sudan’s government,” he stressed.

‘The Sudanese deserve better’

The EU refrained from sending observers to Sudan, saying that the electoral environment in the country is far from conducive.

“The failure to initiate a genuine national dialogue one year after it was announced by the Government of Sudan is a setback for the welfare of the people of Sudan,” EU foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini stated on Thursday.

“When dialogue is bypassed, some groups are excluded and civil and political rights are infringed, the upcoming elections cannot produce a credible result with legitimacy throughout the country. The people of Sudan deserve better. We therefore chose not to engage in support of these elections.”


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