UN chief concerned over "sensitive" period around Sudanese national elections

April 8, 2010 11:02 am 

UNITED NATIONS, April 8 — With Sudanese national elections set to take place on Sunday, UN Secretary-general Ban Ki- moon on Wednesday expressed concerns for the "sensitive" period and recommended an extension of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) for another year.

"Security in Southern Sudan and Darfur during the elections period is of concern," Ban said in his latest report to the UN Security Council, which was issued here Wednesday, highlighting this "sensitive" time leading up to and immediately following elections.

"Despite efforts made thus far, voter education remains an enormous challenge given the size of Sudan, the large number of first-time voters, the security environment in some areas and restrictions placed on civil society," the report said.

The secretary-general noted that the elections should play "a positive role in strengthening opportunities" for the Sudanese people and called on concerned parties to ensure that the electoral environment is "free and fair."

"I also call on the government of National Unity and Darfur armed movements and stakeholders to ensure that negotiations towards a comprehensive peace agreement continue with full speed in the post-election period," Ban said in the report.

With the referendum set for January 2011 on the independence for southern Sudan, Ban noted challenges UNMIS will face, such as referendum preparations, security in the south, and capacity- building in areas UNMIS operates.

Next year's vote is among the key milestones of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the pact between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement ( SPLM) that ended the long-running north-south civil war.

In his report, Ban proposed an extension of UNMIS until April 30, 2011. The current mandate is set to expire April 30.

The Sudanese multi-party elections, the first set of its kind in more than 20 years, are set for Sunday through Tuesday. (PNA/Xinhua)

ALM/ebp

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