Carter to lead Sudan poll observers

The former US president will be a prominent observer during the week-long referendum process set to begin on January 9.

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    Observers from the EU and Carter Center were also deployed earlier to assess the voter registration phase [AFP]

    Hundreds of foreign poll observers will be in southern Sudan in the next few days for the week-long referendum process set to begin on January 9.

    Prominent among them will be Jimmy Carter, former US president, Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, and Joseph Warioba, the former Tanzanian prime minister.

    "The referendum is a critical step in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement," Carter said in a statement.

    "We hope this process will help the people of Sudan work for a peaceful future, regardless of the outcome."

    The Carter Center field officer in Juba has told Al Jazeera that their observers will be in Khartoum on Thursday as part of the organisation’s delegation. He also said that they would make their way to southern Sudan in time for the referendum. 

    The European Union had earlier said that it will deploy a 110-strong team of observers.

    Veronique de Keyser, head of the EU observation mission, said that the team comprised of members from 27 European countries as well as Switzerland, Norway and Canada.

    Russia too will be sending its observers.

    Security focus

    Sergei Lavrov, its foreign minister, has said that Russian observers will take part in the monitoring process.

    Lavrov said Russia will relocate four helicopters from Chad to Sudan to help the UN ensure security during the referendum.

    The UN has also appointed a three-member panel to monitor the referendum. It will be led by Benjamin Mkapa, another former Tanzanian president. This is in addition to observers from the African Union.

    Small advance groups of observers from the EU and the Carter Center have been deployed earlier to assess the voter registration phase of the referendum process that started on November 14.

    John Hardman, the Carter Center president, said his organisation will deploy more than 100 observers across Sudan and the overseas voting locations to assess the process and observe polling, counting, and tabulation.

    The Center has maintained an election mission in Sudan since 2008, and organised a long-term observation mission for Sudan’s April 2010 general elections. 

    The organisation is also supporting non-partisan domestic observation in Sudan, including the training and deployment of an estimated 3,000 observers for the referendum.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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