HRW: Sudan abuses hamper fair election

Jan. 24, 2010 at 11:24 AM

NEW YORK, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Alleged abuses by Sudanese security forces are seriously undermining the chances for free and credible elections, Human Rights Watch says.

In a release issued Sunday from New York, the rights advocates contend both national and southern Sudanese authorities have restricted basic rights in the run-up to the April elections, which included voter registration drives in November and December.

HRW says that in northern Sudan, security forces arbitrarily arrested members and election observers of opposition political parties and activists, such as in Darfur where national security forces allegedly beat and arrested an election observer and detained him without charge for 25 days.

Meanwhile in the capital Khartoum, armed national security forces allegedly assaulted and arrested members of an activist group for distributing fliers with slogans opposing President Omar al-Bashir.

"The Khartoum government is still using its security forces to harass and abuse those who speak out against the ruling National Congress Party," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "That is no environment for holding free, fair, and transparent elections."

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