Sudan president threatens to expel election monitors

Source: Reuters

(Adds background) KHARTOUM, March 22 (Reuters) – Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir threatened on Monday to expel international election monitors after they said April’s vote may have to be delayed. “We brought these organisations from outside to monitor the elections, but if they ask for them to be delayed, we will throw them out,” Bashir said in comments broadcast on state TV. “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,” Bashir added. The only long-term international observer mission in Sudan said last week that the country may have to postpone its first multi-party elections in 24 years due to logistical delays, with hundreds of thousands of names missing from the voters’ list weeks before voting. Carter Center officials issued a report saying Sudan’s April presidential and legislative elections remained “at risk on multiple fronts” and urged Sudan to lift harsh restrictions on rallies and end fighting in Darfur ahead of the ballot. Voting is due to start in Africa’s largest country on April 11 in elections promised under a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of north-south civil war. Sudan is preparing for some of the most complex elections on record with at least six different votes using three different voting systems. The ballot, originally scheduled before July 2009, has already been delayed several times. The Carter Center, a non-governmental organization founded by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter that aims to further democracy and human rights, said preparations by Sudan’s National Elections Commission were lagging. Many opposition parties have called for the elections to be postponed, saying Sudan needs time to pass democratic reforms. (Reporting by Opheera McDoom; editing by Diana Abdallah)
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