Sudan Elections An Opportunity With Dire Potential
LIANE HANSEN, Host:
NPR's Gwen Thompkins is in Khartoum. And, Gwen, I understand there will be three days of voting for various offices around the country. How's day one going so far?
GWEN THOMPKINS: Well, Liane, you know, for an election that everybody knew was coming, there's been an awful lot of confusion. As you mentioned, the presidential candidates, so many of them have pulled out in recent days, but their names are still on the ballots. And at the polling stations, there seems to be some confusion about who gets to vote.
HANSEN: Many in Sudan's political opposition are accusing the ruling party, President Bashir's party, of dirty tricks. What kind of impropriety are they talking about?
THOMPKINS: Also, there are problems with voter registration. You know, in the final days of voting registration, millions of names came up onto the rolls and there is real concern about whether those names are real. Some allege that there could be four to six million ghost-names on the registries, so that has also led to distrust and, you know, opposition parties abandoning the process.
HANSEN: Gwen, with all this confusion, I mean, is everyone confident the election will move forward?
THOMPKINS: Also, without these elections, next year's referendum for the south - in which southern voters are going to able to vote for independence from Khartoum, from Bashir, from the Republic of Sudan - that vote will not take place and everyone wants that referendum to move forward in 2011.
HANSEN: NPR's Gwen Thompkins in Khartoum, Gwen thank you very much.
THOMPKINS: Thank you so much, Liane.
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