By Julius N. Uma
July 4, 2010 (JUBA) — Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections (SuNDE), a domestic observer body, has pledged its full commitment towards ensuring success in Sudan’s forthcoming Referendum, already scheduled for early next year.
The non-partisan coalition of over 75 Sudanese civil society organizations, SuNDE, is the largest domestic monitoring organization in Southern Sudan, having played an instrumental role during the April 2010 general elections.
The domestic observer group, however, still maintains its commitment in the referendum, both at the registration process, monitoring and declaration of results.
“SuNDE pledges to document and report to the public the findings of its observation efforts. SuNDE’s observation of the 2011 referendum will help promote transparency and build public confidence in the process,” Mr. Edmond Yakani, the SuNDE Coordinator told Sudan Tribune.
In a related development, members of the observer body remain are reportedly optimistic that the referendum will be conducted peacefully, in accordance with the international standards for elections. As such, they reaffirmed their commitment to remain non-partisan throughout the referendum process.
“SuNDE remains committed to providing the public with a neutral and non-partisan accounting of the referendum processes,” Lony Ruot, the SuNDE Chairperson said, adding that, “Members of SuNDE pledge not to advocate for either unity or separation during the referendum process.”
Meanwhile, the organization noted with concern evidence that preparations for the 2011 referendum remain far behind schedule.
In essence, SuNDE strongly urged Sudan’s Government of National Unity to form an independent Referendum Commission tasked with overseeing all these processes.
SuNDE’s statement comes nearly a month after a coalition of civil society activists formed the Southern Sudan Civil Society Referendum Taskforce, which joined a pro-separation procession organized by various youth entities (including the SPLM youth league).
The Taskforce, though sharing the name, is different from the high level politically empowered Southern Sudan Referendum Taskforce chaired by the Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar.
It was at the climax of the procession that members of the civil society taskforce presented its position paper, which among other also advocated for complete transparency in the conduct of the referendum.
Members of the civil society, however, faced serious criticism following their participation in the pro-separation event, with many accusing them of using a partisan approach to the issue.
Most of the civil society organizations are non-partisan; hence those involving themselves in political party activities are widely seen as betraying the cause for which they were formed.
“Is the forthcoming referendum an affair being advanced by a political party or it’s meant to be the outcome of the people’s decision?” a member of the Carter Center queried when asked.