Menkerios: Southern Kordofan elections should form inclusive government

1 May 2011 – The elections in Southern Kordofan should not be a “make-or-break” process, but should lead up to an all inclusive government, the head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said in Kadugli today.

Speaking to the press after meeting with two candidates for the governor’s position, Special Representative of Secretary General (SRSG) Haile Menkerios said that both candidates, Ahmed Harun and Abdulaziz al-Hilul, had pledged their commitment to this.

“This is a state where supporters of both exist,” Mr. Menkerios said. “It should not be a winner-takes-all election. They have said that they will definitely announce that if they win, either one of them, they will form inclusive governments.”

Mr. Harun and Mr. al-Hilul are contesting for the governorship on the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) tickets, respectively.

Mr. Menkerios also met with the state security committee that is responsible for ensuring security for the election.

“I told the two candidates and the security committee that there is tension and apprehension in the state and that everything should be done to ensure the security of the election,” he said. “We will do everything we can to assist in this regard.”

The committee asked UNMIS to assist with transport of the security committee and logistical support for the police.

“The army should play no role whatsoever in securing the elections,” Mr. Menkerios said. “If there is any need of area security then it should be, as agreed before, the Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) that would take responsibility for that, but not for polling.”

Referring to the violence in Al Rashad locality last month, in which 19 persons died and 29 were injured, Mr. Menkerios said that such an incident should be investigated independently and those responsible brought to justice.

He also condemned campaign messages which were, in effect, a call to arms for the side that loses the election.

“It is not acceptable. It is regrettable,” he said. “The campaign is over, but for what remains during the balloting and after the election, the two candidates have committed to refrain from rhetoric that could fire up and increase the fear and risk of people facing violence or the threat of violence.”

Mr. Menkerios noted that observers had said the technical aspect of the election process had been satisfactory so far and that the National Election Commission (NEC) had corrected a lot of shortcomings from the experience of the April 2010 elections.
UNMIS does not observe the process, but is only mandated with assisting it, he explained.

When asked about the use of state resources by candidates for campaigns, the SRSG said that this was illegal for any party.

“If it has happened, then each candidate has the right to bring this to law and justice to take its course,” he said.

Responding to a question about the third candidate for the governor’s position, Telefon Kuku, Mr. Menkerios reiterated that the UN supported a process that was free and democratic within the law and would not push one candidate or another to participate or not to participate.

“I think within the laws of the land, within the agreements of the two sides, each side has the right to push for their legal rights,” he said. “We will support that those legal rights are respected and that the law takes it course.”