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Irregularities during second elections day in Sudan; head of polling station in Darfur ‘casts 250 votes’

April 12 - 2010 ZALINGEI

(By Radio Dabanga)

An increased number of irregularities were reported to Radio Dabanga on the second day of voting in Sudan. One head of a polling station admitted to have cast ‘250 votes’ for illiterate people. On the second day, as on the first, not many people seem to be willing to vote in Darfur. No violence was reported. A reporter in the second largest city of Sudan, Port Sudan, found that the opposition parties were angry about the lack of ballot papers. Port Sudan is the only place where the collective opposition agreed on one candidate for governor to challenge the existing NCP appointee. In Omdurman – the twin city of Khartoum – at least 16 polling stations remained closed on the first day and part of the second day due to not having received the ballot papers. Also in Kassala several stations did not open on the first day at all. Some opened there doors only today (Monday) after midday.

Head of polling center votes ‘250 times’

The head of a polling center in Zalingei in West Darfur has been accused of casting 250 votes for people who are ‘illiterate’, according to multiple party observers who notified Radio Dabanga. Two other polling stations in Zalingei were only opened today after remaining closed during the first voting day. Some registered voters began protestig this morning, one hour after the opening of the polls. They were angry that the ballots for their constituency were printed without the symbol of the main local candidate, whose symbol was a bell. The protestors wanted immediate destruction of the votes cast prior to the discovery of the error, but the head of the polling center did not allow them to touch the boxes. After a noisy quarrel in the Shehada polling center, the two affected polling stations were closed indefinitely awaiting a solution for the ‘missing bell’ candidate.

In Markaz al Shola polling center, the head of the polling center admitted to the political party observers that he rendered ‘services to illiterate’ voters without informing the observers as required. The opposition parties have accused the head of the station of having cast all votes for President Omar Al Bashir. The opposition party spokesman of DUP, Ali Mahmoud Hassan, said that they will file a joint complaint. The opposition wants all votes to be destroyed.

From Rooster to Lorry

Mohamed Birsham Mohamed from the 23rd polling center in El Daein became outraged after discovering that his symbol of a rooster behind his name was changed into a lorry. ‘All people from my constituency know me from using the rooster as a symbol. When they started to look for the symbol, they only found a lorry, but they are not sure whether that is me or someone else,’ he said. Mohamed Birsham was running as an independent candidate for the State Legislative Assembly in South Darfur.

IDPs boycott

Leaders of the Zamzam camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) gathered for a meeting yesterday after they were offered incentives to vote. Representatives of the National Congress Party (NCP) yesterday came to the camp with 50 to 60 registration cards. They reportedly told the IDPs that NCP could help them recover money that they had lost in the recent Souq El Mawasir scam. However, the Zamzam leaders called Radio Dabanga today to say that they are going to boycott the election, despite the attempts from NCP to intimidate them to participate in the election. Radio Dabanga received a similar report yesterday from Abu Shouk IDP camp. A camp leader there said that NCP threatened life would be more difficult if IDPs do not vote for them.

South Sudan irregularities

Samson Kwaje, campaign manager for the SPLM contender for the South Sudanese presidency, called the first election day a ‘wasted day’ due to the numerous irregularities. Talking to reporters he said that many voters’ names were missing from registration lists, that some polling centers opened later than scheduled and that there were missing ballot boxes. He blamed the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the irregularities and the lack of capacity to run free and fair elections. Angelina Teny, who is running as an independent candidate against the SPLM appointed governor in Unity State, said she and her staff were prevented from observing the procedures in the polling stations. She was stopped by security agents.

The Vice-President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Riek Machar, cast his vote in his hometown, Bentiu, Unity state after checking for his name at five different polling stations. His name did not appear on the voters registration list were he originally was enlisted, but he was finally allowed to cast his vote in the fifth station he visited. It took him hours to locate his name. The same happened to voters in Koch county. According to an SRS reporter, voters are forced to trek for hours in search of their names in various polling stations, a task made more difficult as fuel shortages paralyzed the transport system. Their reporter stated: ‘Now private cars have run out of fuel. But the current governor, who is SPLM, got fuel for their cars to transport their supporters. They are asking stranded voters who they want to vote for. If they agree to vote for their candidate they take them to their polling station. Some walk for four to six hours and they became so tired and will not be able to vote.’

Stamps missing

The head of polling station No. 1 in constituency No. 13 of Yambio town in Western Equatoria State, James Ndukpo, said that two ballot paper stamps were discovered missing when the polling station opened on Monday morning. Eyewitnesses claimed to SRS Radio that that party agents had stolen them. The incident is being investigated by state magistrates and the National Elections Commission (NEC).

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