International monitors: security personnel counted West Darfur ballots

The Carter Center’s electoral monitoring mission reported that security personnel participated in the counting process in West Darfur. In a statement issued yesterday, one month after the voting began in Sudan, the monitors questioned the accuracy of the announced election results nationwide. The observation mission explained that “the counting and tabulation phases of Sudan’s national elections were highly disorganized, non-transparent, and vulnerable to electoral fraud.” Some of the result forms in West Darfur showed a higher number of participating voters than there were registered voters, observers reported. The Carter Center said that the participation of the security personnel in the state constituted a violation of electoral procedures. At one polling station in El Geneina, security personnel were the only people observed counting the ballots. Prior to the completion of the tabulation in the state, the Carter Center withdrew its observers because of security concerns.

The Carter Center’s electoral monitoring mission reported that security personnel participated in the counting process in West Darfur. In a statement issued yesterday, one month after the voting began in Sudan, the monitors questioned the accuracy of the announced election results nationwide. The observation mission explained that “the counting and tabulation phases of Sudan’s national elections were highly disorganized, non-transparent, and vulnerable to electoral fraud.”

Some of the result forms in West Darfur showed a higher number of participating voters than there were registered voters, observers reported. The Carter Center said that the participation of the security personnel in the state constituted a violation of electoral procedures. At one polling station in El Geneina, security personnel were the only people observed counting the ballots. Prior to the completion of the tabulation in the state, the Carter Center withdrew its observers because of security concerns.

Election officials in North Darfur State secretly compiled the results during nighttime sessions. Carter Center observers were repeatedly prevented from observing daytime tabulation. Staff at the state’s data center in El Fasher falsely told observers that the data center had closed at 6 p.m. But then the observers found out that the State High Election Committee was instead holding night tabulation sessions. The three states of Darfur were among seven states in Sudan in which the Carter Center was either completely denied or given only limited access to the tabulation process. According to the Carter Center, “parallel tabulation operations” took place in the states of Khartoum and South Darfur. This means that electoral officials set up two data centers. The observers were able to access one data center but not the other.

Such irregularities also occurred elsewhere in Sudan and were widespread if not systematic. The international monitors noted that electoral officials avoided using an electronic tabulation system that contained numerous safeguards for data entry. “This prevented key verification steps from occurring and compromised the accuracy of the results. In some cases, officials resorted to manual tabulation and ignored the NEC’s planned data security measures,” stated the Carter Center.

The Carter Center also suggested that the government of Sudan failed to provide adequate security for the conduct of the elections in Darfur. It noted that credible sources estimate that between 100 and 300 people died in fighting in East Jebel constituency in South Darfur during the voting period. Moreover, in Kass constituency, adjacent to East Jebel, additional fighting between the same two groups reportedly stopped polling early. Counting was similarly affected as ballots were counted away from several polling centers due to the security situation. “The Government of Sudan fundamentally has a responsibility to guarantee the security of the person. In addition, restrictions on the freedom of movement also raise questions about the civil and political freedoms enjoyed by Sudan citizens during the elections, particularly in the Darfur region,” the Center stated.

The Carter Center mission was headed by former US president Jimmy Carter, who himself was markedly more positive about the Sudanese election than this statement suggests.

(Photo: Ballot box stuffing in Red Sea State – YouTube)