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Africa
Sudan threat to expel poll monitors
President says foreign observers seeking delay in next month's polls will be expelled.
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2010 19:59 GMT

Sudan's president has threatened to expel international election monitors after they called for a delay in the country's first multi-party elections in 24 years.

The US based Carter Center called for a "minor" delay in the vote, scheduled for April 11, to deal with logistical problems, with hundreds of thousands of names missing from the voters' list weeks before the polls.

Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, responded angrily on state TV on Monday saying "any foreigner or organisation that demand the delay of elections will be expelled sooner rather than later.

"We wanted them to see the free and fair elections, but if they interfere in our affairs, we will cut their fingers off, put them under our shoes, and throw them out," he said.

Poll 'at risk'

in depth
  Timeline: ICC and Sudan
  Timeline: Darfur crisis
  Profile: Omar al-Bashir
  Riz Khan: Ignoring Sudan?
  Riz Khan: Sudan's interlocking crises
  Inside Story: Sliding back into civil war
  The role of the ICC
  Drought and conflict in South Sudan
  Who are Sudan's Jem rebels?

Officials from the Carter Center, the only long-term international observer mission in Sudan, said Sudan's presidential and legislative elections remained "at risk on multiple fronts", including the ability of candidates to campaign freely and the impact of delayed preparations for the vote.

It said preparations by the national election commission were lagging as Sudan prepares for some of the most complex elections on record with at least six different votes using three different voting systems.

It also urged Sudan to lift harsh restrictions on rallies and end fighting in Darfur ahead of the ballot.

The election commission, however, has said the vote will go ahead as planned.

The ballot, originally scheduled before July 2009, has already been delayed several times.

Opposition criticism

The opposition has criticised Sudan's election commission for making decisions they said favoured al-Bashir's ruling party.

Many of them have called for the elections to be postponed, saying Sudan needs time to pass democratic reforms.

Al-Bashir expelled major aid agencies from Darfur after the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in the Hague in the Netherlands, issued an arrest warrant for him in March last year for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The president refused to deal with the court, and decided to run for re-election, a clear attempt to boost his legitimacy at home.

Other foreign observers are expected to arrive in the country before the vote.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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