Saturday, November 28, 2009

U.S. says Sudan's 2010 elections in doubt

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - Sudan may be unable to hold credible elections in coming months because the ruling party and opposition cannot agree on ground rules for the polls, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

At the end of a trip to Sudan by President Barack Obama's special envoy Scott Gration, the State Department said it saw little movement on issues such as voter registration and border delineation between Khartoum and the semi-autonomous South -- endangering plans for national elections in April 2010 and a referendum on southern succession in 2011.

"Without immediate resolution of these disputes, we are concerned about the chances for conducting credible elections and referenda," it said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the parties have not yet demonstrated the political will necessary to achieve resolution on these difficult and sensitive issues."

Gration's trip to Sudan was his first since Washington announced in October it would keep economic sanctions on Sudan but would also offer Khartoum new incentives to end violence in Darfur and the South.

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), former southern rebels who are now junior partners in the governing coalition under the terms of a 2005 peace deal, have accused the North of stalling on a democratic transformation and undermining plans for free elections.

The SPLM and other parties said on Wednesday they would delay a decision on whether to boycott April's elections in part due to a week-long extension of the voter registration period. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>

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