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Western powers favor keeping April date for Sudan elections

April 1 - 2010 WASHINGTON

The foreign ministers of three Western powers said that they support conducting Sudan’s elections in April. They said they are ‘deeply concerned’ by administrative and logistical challenges facing the elections organizers.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Støre, and United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Miliband issued a joint statement Wednesday, 31 March, affirming the significance of the elections as ‘a major milestone in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended Sudan’s twenty-two year civil war’.

‘We urge all parties in Sudan to work urgently to ensure that elections can proceed peacefully and credibly in April’, they said. This announcement came after some political forces in Sudan had pushed to delay the elections, and also as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) yesterday gathered to decide on boycotting the presidential level of the elections.

The US, Britain and Norway form the so-called ‘Troika’ of Western powers that backed the peace process that culminated in Sudan’s 2005 peace deal. These countries also provided substantial donations to implement the agreement, deploy peacekeepers and build the capacity of the newly recognized government of Southern Sudan.

In the same statement, the three countries also made clear that they were against any delay to the referenda for independence of Southern Sudan, Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains and Southern Kordofan, scheduled for 2011. The postponement of the referenda was something reportedly demanded by some National Congress Party leaders in exchange for agreeing to delay the elections. However, such a delay would be strongly opposed by hardliners in the SPLM so no political deal could be struck on those terms.

Also on Wednesday, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen said he was not in a position to recommend on postponement of the elections in Sudan. He said that it is entirely the decision of the political parties in Sudan.


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