Gration calls on EU to provide monitors, funds for Sudan vote

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January 11, 2010 (WASHINGTON) - Major General (Ret.) Scott Gration, the US presidential envoy to Sudan, in a meeting with the press today called on the European Union to send some 300 elections monitors to Sudan in time for the April nationwide elections.

Scott Gration (Getty Images) Gration said "In terms of the near term, as we prepare for the elections, we would encourage the EU to provide the election monitors that have been discussed, upwards of 300, that will allow us to have the transparency, to have the monitoring that we need to ensure a credible election."

He was speaking at a briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center in Washington, and via digital video conference with journalists in New York and South Africa.

Gration had met with EU officials in Brussels in December. Given his statement today, it appears that he already appealed to the EU to make a commitment in this regard, but he has not yet received a positive response.

"We really are requesting the EU to consider that very favorably. In addition to that, it will take a great deal of resources, financial resources, to be able to put this election on and the referendum on. Much of these resources will need to come from the international partners, of which the EU will be a significant donor. We urge them to become involved," he said.

The European Union's representative to Sudan, Torben Brylle, has met with Gration on a number of occasions. During the year 2009, both men attended the so-called "E6" meetings of envoys from the EU, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. These took place in Doha, Moscow, and Abuja. They also met in London at a meeting with Canadian, French, Dutch, Norwegian and British officials.

Gration also spoke about long-term funding commitments. "In the long term, the development of the infrastructures that I talked about, the development of governance, of government that I discussed cannot be done without the participation of the Europeans and the European Union."

"We have very close relations with the Contact Group [Canada, the European Union, France, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States], with the Troika [Norway, the UK, and the US]. The Troika had a very important role in birthing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Naivasha in 2005, and we are working with Norway and the UK to continue to provide the support that the CPA needs to be fully implemented. But we believe that - so we believe that the European Union is an important partnership and a key element to ensuring that not only the elections and referendum take place as scheduled and in a credible way, but also that the future of Sudan continues to be bright," he said.

Registration for Sudan's election was completed in early December. The US-based Carter Center provided international monitoring of the effort.

Also at the event, Gration denied that the US has pressured President Omar Al-Bashir not to stand for election to the presidency. He said, "as far as I know, we have not been involved in making any recommendations, recognizing that Sudan is a sovereign country and these parties can run themselves as they see fit and put up for contesting these positions anybody who they would like. And so I am not aware of any decisions on our part to try to change the outcome of what the NCP would decide in terms of their candidate for national government."