Saturday, November 13, 2010

Elections As A Mechanism to Address Key Conflict Issues In Sudan

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The Executive Director Africa Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), Ousman Hummaida has said that the recent elections were included in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) as a mechanism to addressing key causes of conflict in Sudan.

Mr. Hummaida was speaking to The Voice Newspaper in an interview at the Laico (Atlantic) Hotel in Banjul. Sudan held its first multiparty elections in 24 years, from April 11 to 15, 2010 and Mr. Hummaida noted that the elections were an essential benchmark of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, bringing the 22 year civil war to a halt.

According to him, the CPA provides a framework for legal and constitutional changes to take place over a six-year interim period, ending with the 2011 referenda for self determination in the South of Sudan and Abyei.

He admitted that the elections represented a significant step forward, giving Sudanese who never had the chance to exercise their voting rights to do so, whereas the campaign offered a unique opportunity to engage in political issues that are critical to the nation.

However, he pointed out that the process was undermined to such an extent that it failed to meet the expectations set out, due to delays in the implementation of the electoral process.

“The process succeeded neither in installing a democratically elected nor a politically diverse government. As such, it will do little to ensure popular confidence in the difficult decisions that must be taken in preparation for the referenda and possible separation of South Sudan,” he outlined.

The human rights defender also noted that his Organisation produced reports through internal monitors on violations and irregularities during the elections period and rights abuses occurring concurrently throughout Sudan. He also observed patterns documenting the extent to which the closely-linked National Election Council and NCP undermined opposing voices and held fundamentally flawed elections marred by irregularities, intimidation, harassment and arrest.

Mr. Hummaida, who is currently attending the Participation of Non-Governmental Organisations on the 47th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, said the monitoring
of the elections shows that many violations occurred systematically throughout Sudan, undermining the credibility of the results.

The African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation based in Africa, London and New York, devoted to promoting human rights in Sudan. Its vision is a peaceful Sudan
where all people can live and prosper free from fear and want in a state committed to peace and justice.

“ACJPS is also working towards bringing about a Sudan committed to all human rights, the rule of law and peace in which the rights and freedoms of individuals are honored and where all persons, groups and communities are granted their rights to non-discrimination, equality and justice,” its executive director

On ACJPS objectives, Mr. Hummaida noted that want to prevent human rights violations and protect those at risk; hold perpetrators of serious violations and international crimes to account; ensure effective access to justice and to obtain reparation for victims of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law; and entrench human rights in Sudanese governance, society and culture.

According to him, their strategies include use of strategic litigation and to provide legal assistance to individuals and groups to defend their rights and freedoms, and to seek and obtain reparation; Advocacy for, and technical support to, advance legal and institutional reforms aimed at implementing international human
rights standards and making constitutional rights effective; Advocacy for, and provision of support to, efforts to use mechanisms designed to hold perpetrators of serious violations of human rights and international crimes to account; Monitoring, documenting and reporting on human rights violation in Sudan and the region; Provision of legal and human rights education and training as well as media campaigns to raise awareness of the rights and freedoms of individuals and groups, and to foster a culture of human rights. Vol:2 Issn:181

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