US hopes 'credible' Sudan vote on schedule
WASHINGTON — The United States voiced hope on Friday that all sides in Sudan can resolve disputes so that "credible" elections can take place as scheduled this month.
US envoy Scott Gration has been holding talks in Sudan in a last-ditch bid to salvage the April 11-13 election, which would the first multi-party polls in the vast nation in 24 years.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that opposition leaders had raised "legitimate concerns" about the election, including over access to the media and the logistics of voting.
"We certainly hope the parties can reach agreement so there will be maximum participation," Crowley told reporters.
"What's important here is to put together credible, legitimate institutions of government that can govern all of Sudan," he said.
Sudan's main opposition parties on Friday gave the authorities four days to implement key reforms and said they would then take part in elections that would be pushed back to May.
Asked if it would be appropriate to delay the election, Crowley said, "At the present time, we're working hard to try to resolve these issues. I think we are still aiming for the election to occur on April 11."
A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was "premature" to endorse a delay in the election as Gration was still assessing the views of all sides.
Crowley said that Gration would likely head Saturday to Doha, where Sudan has been negotiating with rebels from Darfur, before returning to Sudan.