Sudanese expats cast votes in UAE Filed on April 12, 2010

Sudanese in the UAE began to cast their votes in their country’s first multi-party elections in the 24 years, 
on Sunday.

The polls have been marred by an opposition boycott and accusations of fraud.

The country’s leader, President Omar Al Bashir, has ruled Sudan since 1989.

Issam Awad Awad Mutwali, Sudan General Consul said, the polling opened in Dubai at 11am. He said 3,661 people registered in Dubai at the Sudanese Consulate.

There are three polling centres in the UAE — Dubai, Al Ain and Abu Dhabi and the total number of Sudanese expats who registered for the voting process here touched the 8,474 mark.

Mutwali said, “The election process went smoothly and there was no signs of fraud. People here are free and they would have fair conditions for the elections. A representative from the Election National Committee is available in addition to two observers of the National Congress and the Union Democratic Party and the presence of some media representatives. He said voting will be held at the Dubai centre from 11am to 11pm in order to allow people to vote during the three days of election.

Issam said some people found difficulties in coming from the far away emirates like Fujairah and Ras Al Khamiah but he expected more people to come in the evenings. He said the Sudanese here will vote for their president only and not for legislative and local bodies.

Mohammed, an expat said, most of the Sudanese have not registered due to the lack of publicity.

He said, “One of the difficulties is that we have to come from Ras Al Khaimah to vote and when we reach the consulate we found that there were no signs boards. Further in my case we did not find the name of my wife who had registered.”

Another voter said that it took people time to find their names and numbers in order to vote. He said no proper order was followed when the voters originally registered.

Al Rasheed Mohammed Al Amin, head of the Sudanese community council in Dubai said, “We are happy to have elections again after all these years as the Sudanese are politically aware.”

Major General Othman Al Bahi, National Election Committee supervisor in Dubai said, “We have only two observers from the political parties representing the National Congress and the Union Democratic Party after the other political parties boycotted the election.

Deputy Consul General, Omer Orkaaldin said the number of election centres is not enough.

“We have recommended for a centre in Fujairah. However, the National Electoral Commission refused and said that the minimum number of voters should be 920 to establish an election centre. The Sudanese consulate alerted nearly 10,000 people through SMSs to come to vote,” Orkaaldin said.

Mohammed Ahmed Gani, representative of the Democratic Union Party said “We made sure the ballot boxes were empty and they were locked with serial number lockers. Also, I made sure the electors had all cast paper in their hands.”

Amira Agarib

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