While there are serious challenges to holding elections in Sudan as planned in April 2010, it will be the last opportunity to bring some level of pluralism to the country ahead of the southern independence referendum foreseen for January 2011. However, to make the upcoming elections meaningful, the Government of Sudan needs to fully respect freedoms of expression, association and assembly in law and its implementation.
The election administration should apply the laws in a way that provides as much space as possible for political parties to campaign efficiently, in order to level the playing field somewhat. It should also ensure a maximum of transparency throughout the electoral process.
Given cumbersome electoral systems with voters receiving up to 12 ballots, there is a serious risk the elections may fail on logistical grounds. There is consideration of only holding elections to executive positions while postponing those to legislative bodies. However, that would do little to promote pluralism and would strengthen the already powerful executive branches of government further. A simplification of the electoral systems may be a more appropriate solution.
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