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EU offers to fund Sudan electoral commission
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Nov 19, 2008 - 7:03:02 AM

EU offers to fund Sudan electoral commission

JUBA, Sudan (AFP) The European Union is ready to bankroll Sudan's electoral commission, which is tasked with preparing landmark polls laid out in a scheduled democratic transformation, a diplomat said Tuesday.

"The EU is ready to give full support to the commission in terms of financing," said Italian Ambassador Roberto Cantone.

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended 21 years of civil war between north and south Sudan, calls for elections no later than 2009 as part of a democratic transition, but there are widespread fears of delays.

"We are aware that there are differing opinions concerning possibility that elections would take place or not," Cantone said.

"Nevertheless, as EU, we believe the elections are a monumental step, not only for implementation of the CPA, but also reconciliation among people of Sudan," the diplomat added.

Cantone spoke with EU ambassadors in the southern capital Juba for talks with officials, including the head of the semi-autonomous region, Salva Kiir.

Southern Sudan officials warn that a clean election is nearly impossible in July, owing to the rainy season in the south, ongoing failures to demarcate the border between north and south and delayed census results.

On Monday, Sudan's national parliament approved an independent electoral commission. That was three months behind schedule after the new electoral law was passed on July 7, two and a half years late.

The line-up of the nine-member commission, appointed by the presidency, is supported by north and south.

President Omar al-Beshir has vowed that elections will be held on time, but some analysts argue that an anticipated international arrest warrant against him for alleged crimes in Darfur could undermine the prospect of polls.

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