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“Monitoring a Hitler Election”

- March 24, 2010

Next month, the Sudan plans to hold elections as agreed to in a comprehensive peace agreement signed by the main parties in the various conflicts that have devastated the country. These are the country’s first competitive elections in a quarter-century. To say that there are issues with the elections would be an understatement. To start with, Sudanese president Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity. Yet, he and his party are running in the election as candidates. To complicate matters further, major international organizations (including the UN) have backed the election and are sending monitors, which according to ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo is like “monitoring a Hitler election,” not really helping his image as an overzealous prosecutor (regardless of what one may think of the analogy, it is not really his job to comment on this, although it is perhaps understandable from an emotional perspective given the criticisms he has faced recently). In the mean time, Bashir has done little to undermine Ocampo’s words. He said that the Sudanese government will respond to critical foreign election observers by cutting off their fingers and putting them under our shoes.

All of this has led NGOs like Save Darfur to appeal to U.S. President Obama not to recognize the elections as their only purpose is to legitimize the rule of a war criminal. Others, like Alex de Waal, are more optimistic and believe that the peace process and the elections are going quite well given the extraordinary circumstances. It is especially important that multiple parties are competing with varying platforms (see here if you want to take an on-line quiz to determine who you would vote for). I don’t know enough about the Sudan to evaluate such competing claims. For much more, I refer to the appropriately titled blog Making Sense of Sudan.