June 29, 2010

III. Violations during the Election Period

Nationwide political repression and human rights abuses marred the elections, which began on April 11. International and domestic election observers reported widespread logistical and administrative problems; faulty ballots; fraud, including multiple voting and ballot-stuffing; incorrect voter lists; late supply of voting materials; ballot papers being taken to the wrong locations; and inconsistent identification requirements at polling stations.[45]

In some cases, these problems led to polling places being suspended or closed. They also prompted the elections commission to extend voting by two days, and to later announce its intention to repeat voting in more than 33 constituencies.

Sudanese civil society organizations deployed about 8,000 observers across Sudan.[46] These included 2,000 observers from the Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections (SuNDE) (in the South) and Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections (SuGDE) (in the North), and 772 observers from the group Sudan Domestic Election Monitoring and Observation Programme (SuDEMOP) in the South.[47] Several other networks of civil society groups deployed throughout northern states and Darfur. Many observers told Human Rights Watch that security forces had intimidated them on several occasions, including ordering them out of polling places and, in some cases, confiscating their accreditation cards.[48]

In their final report on the elections, SuNDE and SuGDE noted “serious shortcomings in the administration of the elections at the polling stations observed.” They recorded 194 incidents of intimidation, harassment, or violence in southern states during the seven-day period in the polling stations observed. SuNDE received reports of incidents of intimidation in all 10 southern states.[49]

Northern Sudan

During polling, Human Rights Watch documented fewer cases of political rights being restricted than in preceding months. However, the NCP-dominated government continued to harass, intimidate, and arrest activists, opposition members, and election observers. Repressive laws also remained in place, contrary to CPA requirements.

On March 31, 2010, for example, plainclothes police officers in the Haj Youssef area of Khartoum arrested another 18-year-old activist from the Girifna group after she handed them a flier.[50] She told Human Rights Watch that police and security agents subjected her to hours of questioning, and threatened to conduct a medical examination to check her virginity if she did not tell the truth.

In several cases documented by Human Rights Watch, authorities targeted people who supported the opposition party boycott of elections in the North. For example, on April 8, security officials in Nyala, South Darfur, arrested and detained the head of the Communist Party, as well as a member of the Umma Reform and Renewal Party, for publishing fliers urging voters to boycott the elections. The two were released after several hours, once they had signed a promise not to “work against Sudan” and to report daily to the national security offices.[51]

In the weeks ahead of the elections, President al-Bashir made highly inflammatory remarks in public speeches in Sennar and Jazirah states, threatening to cut off the necks, tongues, and fingers of international observers who proposed a delay in elections.[52] These threats followed demands by opposition parties in March to delay elections until November, and a March 18 report by the Carter Center suggesting that a delay might be needed to address administrative challenges facing the elections commission.[53]

Also in March, government authorities ordered an international staff member of the Carter Center to leave the country, reportedly because of anti-government remarks he made during a training course.[54] On March 28, two security officers detained and questioned Abdelmajeed Salih, a staff member of the Carter Center and a known human rights activist, accusing him of mobilizing Darfur students and working with foreigners.[55]

During voting week from April 11 to 15, police and security officials intimidated observers with threats, assaults, and arrests.

For example, on April 11, police in Khartoum expelled observers in one voting center because they objected to election staff helping voters fill out ballots.[56] In Omdurman, a security official who is a member of the ruling NCP assaulted an observer from a civil society organization after the observer had documented him assaulting a DUP party member.[57] The same day, in a village near Hassahissa, Jazirah state, police also briefly arrested two female candidates because polling authorities did not recognize their right to also work as Popular Congress Party (PCP) observers.[58]

Observers also reported fraud through multiple voting; voting by unregistered people; mishandling ballots and ballot boxes; and paying and busing voters into centers where they were not registered—including busing people to Khartoum’s Kober prison.[59] Widely-circulated internet video footage that allegedly showed elections commission staff filling ballot boxes at night in Eastern Sudan led the NEC to cancel results there.[60]


Voting in Darfur was limited by the large numbers of displaced persons who boycotted the elections, as well as lack of security, which on April 7 caused the European Union to withdraw election observers from Darfur.[61]

Violence and threats of violence by security officials, rebel groups, or other armed persons either prevented or interrupted election activities in the areas of Jebel Moon and Jebel Mara.[62] In eastern Jebel Mara, inter-factional rebel fighting in January and government clashes with rebel soldiers and government attacks on civilians in February killed scores of civilians and destroyed villages, causing mass displacement.[63] The scale of killing and destruction remains unknown; UN agencies have failed to reach the location to investigate.

In and around Kass, South Darfur, armed clashes between ethnic groups in March and April limited access to polling places and forced them to close early. Human Rights Watch also received reports of numerous incidents of security forces, military, and unidentified armed elements intimidating observers in Nyala.[64]

In West Darfur, Justice and Equality Movement rebels, who opposed elections, threatened civilians in Sirba and ordered them not to vote.[65] Most polling sites in the area closed on the first day of polling.[66] In one polling station in Kerenik, West Darfur, police on April 12 expelled a political party observer from the Democratic Unionist Party after he objected to staff allowing non-registered people to cast ballots.[67]

Southern Sudan

In Southern Sudan, Human Rights Watch found that the ruling SPLM and aligned security forces repeatedly committed rights and electoral abuses, and created an atmosphere of oppression as people cast their votes.

Widespread vote-rigging, intimidation, and, in some cases, violence permeated the electoral process. Although violence was minimal during the voting period, Human Rights Watch documented numerous incidents of security forces carrying out arbitrary arrests and intimidating voters, opposition members, political party election observers, and domestic election observers in several southern states, including Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Unity, and Jonglei. Many arrests that Human Rights Watch documented had no lawful basis, but instead seemed aimed at preventing party representatives from observing elections. Most were held for a short time and then released.

Central Equatoria

In Terekeka county, Central Equatoria, security forces arrested several opposition party observers from the NCP, the Southern Sudan Democratic Forum (SSDF), and the United Democratic Front (UDF) during the voting period.[68]

Human Rights Watch received similar reports of arrests and intimidation in Terekeka county from the NCP, independent candidates, and domestic election observers. For example, on April 12, security officers arrested five election observers for Alfred Gore, the independent candidate for governor in Central Equatoria. They were freed the next day without charge.[69]

On April 13, security forces arrested nine opposition party election observers at a polling place in Juba. Five of the agents worked for Gore, and the other four included agents from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) and the NCP.[70] An SPLM-DC agent arrested on the same day told Human Rights Watch that the security officers entered polling places and demanded to see observers’ accreditation. The security forces then arrested all those who worked for an opposition party or an independent candidate.[71]

On April 14, security officers forcibly removed 14 SuNDE observers from three polling places in Kator South Constituency in Juba, Central Equatoria. The security officers briefly questioned and detained the observers at a nearby police station.[72]

And on April 17, observers reported that county commissioners and security officers entered a polling place—as they did in other states—threatened voters and elections commission officials, and took over the counting process.[73] In another county, in the same state, security forces detained a domestic observer when he questioned the presence of security forces and other government officials in the polling place during counting.[74]

Western Equatoria

In Yambio, Western Equatoria, soldiers from the southern military, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), beat, intimidated, and harassed opposition party members and their election observers on numerous occasions.[75] For example, on April 14, several soldiers beat an observer for an independent candidate for governor, Joseph Bakosoro. Two days earlier, soldiers beat and detained two other observers for the same candidate.[76]

On April 11, SPLA soldiers beat and detained an SPLM-DC observer, Dr. Dominic Funda, and two others in Tore, Western Equatoria. The men were detained for two days in a military barrack called Rasolo.[77]

Human Rights Watch also documented a number of cases of arrests and intimidation of domestic observer groups by security forces in Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria.

In Western Equatoria, observers reported that the southern governing party and security officers took control of six polling places and expelled all domestic and other political party observers from the station.[78] For example, in Maridi County, Western Equatoria, SPLA soldiers prevented political party observers from entering polling places and controlled the entire voting process. Observers reported that the commissioner of the county entered the polling places and told people how to vote. Observers also reported cases of opposition party observers intimidating and telling people how to vote in a number of states.[79]

Western Bahr el Ghazal, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Unity

Observer groups also reported arrests of their members in Western Bahr el Ghazal, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Unity states.

On April 16, security officers arrested and detained a SuNDE observer in Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal. The security officers beat the observer and warned him not to report on what he had observed in Wau, before releasing him the following day.[80] SuNDE observers reported similar cases of harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests in Maridi County, Western Equatoria, Terekeka, and Juba counties in Central Equatoria, and Leer county in Unity state.[81]

Observers in Western Bahr el Ghazal told Human Rights Watch that SPLA soldiers engaged in widespread intimidation of voters and polling officials, including forcing voters to opt for the “star”—the symbol of the ruling southern party.[82] In other states, soldiers forced their way into polling places and ordered domestic and party observers to leave.

[45] The Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections (SuGDE) and the Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections (SuNDE), Elections Statement, April 24, 2010; and Carter Center Election Observation Mission in Sudan Presidential, Gubernatorial, and Legislative Elections, Preliminary Statement, April 17, 2010, http://cartercenter.org/news/pr/sudan-041710.html (accessed May 26, 2010).

[46] Carter Center Election Observation Mission, Preliminary Statement, April 17, 2010.

[47] Human Rights Watch interviews with domestic observers from SuNDE, Juba, April 2010.

[48] Human Rights Watch interviews with domestic observers, Juba and Khartoum, April 2010.

[49] SuGDE and SuNDE, Elections Statement, April 24, 2010.

[50] Human Rights Watch interview with activist (name withheld), Khartoum, April 11, 2010.

[51] Human Rights Watch telephone interview, April 10, 2010.

[52] “Carter Center threatens to withdraw from Sudan unless Bashir apologizes publicly: TV,” Sudan Tribune, April 7, 2010, http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article34670 (accessed May 24, 2010).

[53] “Carter Center Welcomes Sudan’s Elections Campaign, Urges Steps to Ensure Open and Inclusive Process,” Carter Center press release, March 18, 2010, http://www.cartercenter.org/news/pr/sudan-031810.html (accessed June 7, 2010).

[54] Human Rights Watch interview with Carter Center staff, Khartoum, March 27, 2010.

[55] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdelmajeed Salih, Khartoum, April 8, 2010.

[56] Human Rights Watch interview with observers (name withheld), Khartoum, April 11, 2010.

[57] Human Rights Watch interview with observer (name withheld), Khartoum, April 15, 2010.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Human Rights Watch interview with observer (name withheld), Khartoum, April 20, 2010.

[60] See, for example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6Oq9DoQn_o&feature=player_embedded (accessed June 9, 2010).

[61] “EU withdraws Darfur poll monitors,” BBC News, April 7, 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8608019.stm (accessed May 24, 2010).

[62] UN Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General on the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, S/2010/213, April 28, 2010, http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2010/213 (accessed May 26, 2010).

[63] Human Rights Watch interview with residents of Jebel Mara (names withheld), Nyala, April 16-19, 2010.

[64] Human Rights Watch interviews with witnesses (names withheld), Nyala, April 16-19, 2010.

[65] Human Rights Watch interviews with witnesses (names withheld), Al Geneina and Sirba, West Darfur, April 12-15, 2010.

[66] UN Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General, April 28, 2010.

[67] Ibid.

[68]Human Rights Watch interview with SSDF candidate for Women’s List, Juba, April 15, 2010.

[69]Human Rights Watch interview with political agent (name withheld) for independent candidate Alfred Gore, Juba, April 19, 2010.

[70]Human Rights Watch interviews with SPLM-DC official (name withheld), Juba, April 15, 2010; and NCP official, Juba, April 20, 2010.

[71]Human Rights Watch interview with SPLM-DC official (name withheld), Juba, April 15, 2010.

[72]Human Rights Watch interview with Edmund Yakini, coordinator for SuNDE, Juba, April 14, 2010.

[73]Human Rights Watch interview with Edmund Yakini, Juba, April 19, 2010.

[74]Human Rights Watch interviews with SuNDE and SuDEMOP observers (names withheld), April 16 and 19, 2010.

[75]Human Rights Watch interview with local freelance journalist (name withheld), Juba, April 19, 2010; and Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Colonel Joseph Bakosoro, independent candidate, Juba, April 20, 2010.

[76]Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Colonel Joseph Bakosoro, April 20, 2010.

[77]Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Dominic Funda, SPLM-DC, Juba, April 16, 2010.


[79]Human Rights Watch interviews with SuNDE and SuDEMOP observers (names withheld), April 16 and 19, 2010.

[80]Human Rights Watch interview with Edmund Yakini, Juba, April 19, 2010.


[82]Human Rights Watch interviews with SuNDE and SuDEMOP observers (names withheld), April 16 and 19, 2010.