Sudan poll observers expelled

2010-04-14 21:04

Khartoum - Sudanese election observers monitoring the country's first competitive polls in more than two decades have been expelled from voting stations in south Sudan, they said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, security forces expelled members of the Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections (SUNDE) from several polling stations in Juba, the capital of south Sudan, the group said, accusing authorities of "obstruction".

"Nineteen domestic observers were removed from three polling centres in Kator South Constituency by unknown security personnel," SUNDE said.

The observers were taken "to the public security office and eventually detained at the police of the public order office near Konyo Konyo market", the group said.

Their release on Wednesday was secured by local officials, the United Nations Mission in Sudan and USAID.

SUNDE condemned the expulsion and detentions as "an obstruction of SUNDE's right to observe the electoral process" and said the move "impairs the transparency of the voting process".

Several local and international missions are overseeing the election.

They include former US President Jimmy Carter's Carter Centre, the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union, Russia, China and Japan.

The vote kicked off on Sunday to a chaotic start, marred by delays and logistical problems.

Sudanese have until Thursday to choose their president, as well as legislative and local representatives.