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Are flawed elections vital? To what end?

Sudan held presidential elections in April of 2010, the first in 10 years. President Omar al-Bashir came to power in 1989 after a bloodless coup and has managed to stay in power. Since then the 2010 election will have been his 3rd. The first held in 1996 took place with 40 candidates and zero political parties. Incumbent al-Bashir won with more than 70% of the vote. The next election in 2000 lead al-Bashir to victory as the main opposition parties dropped out. The recent election lead al-bashir to victory with about 68% of the vote.

According to the Society for International Development, “the preliminary statement of the Carter Centre Election observation mission in Sudan declared that the election fell short of meeting international standards but met the benchmark set in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) due to increased political and civic participation in the run-up to the elections. The statement recommends that though there was little competition in the race the limited opening around the elections should be expanded to ensure respect for Sudan’s constitution, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“The European Union observed that the election process was ‘flawed but a vital step towards peace’. The head of its Election Observation Mission in a statement made after the elections noted the significant logistical challenges that had to be faced up to in the rundown to the elections.”

Implications from Institute for the Future:

The question we must all be asking ourselves is what is the value of a flawed election? Is it really a vital step towards peace? Such an assumption takes a normative view that holding a flawed election puts a country on a specific path towards less flawed elections the next time, and that elections-like western style democracy-are the key to peace.
The road to peace and reconciliation is not blue printed. As such, there is no precise algorithm for getting there, and flawed elections may simply lead to increased pessimism and loss of hope within Sudan.

One can argue that Somalia's war has been to a large extent fought to oust a democratic western style government that lacks legitimacy internally despite being bolstered by the international community. The western concept of democracy does not fit in with Somali culture. A similar situation may possibly further complicate matters within Sudan

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Society for International Development, April 2010, pgs. 4-5