, SIRTE, Mar 25 – Sudan has no reason to delay its elections next month which will go ahead as planned, a minister insisted on Thursday, after western observers called for a postponement.
"The date of the elections remains" April 11-13, Sudan\’s state minister for foreign affairs, Samani al-Wassila, told AFP here ahead of a two-day Arab summit starting on Saturday in Sirte, the hometown of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.
"There have been no reasons to delay" the elections, Wassila said, adding much of the preparation work had been completed.
The Carter Center, which has been allowed to observe Sudan\’s electoral process, last week urged the authorities to delay the elections because of what it said was the National Elections Commission\’s "limited capacity" to organise the polls.
Opposition parties had already called for a delay.
Human Rights Watch said on Sunday that Sudanese government repression of its opponents and the media was threatening the chances of next month\’s elections being "free, fair, and credible."
Wassila said "these calls for the elections to be postponed would have been reasonable if they had been made a year ago."
Sudan\’s legislative, regional and presidential elections are a key provision of the 2005 peace accord between the mainly Muslim north and mostly Christian or animist south that brought two decades of civil war to an end.
The vote is the first genuine electoral challenge faced by President Omar al-Beshir, who came to power in a military coup in 1989, three years after Sudan\’s last multi-party poll.