The Sudanese people went to the polls last week in the first multiparty elections there in 24 years. Despite reported problems and irregularities, the voting was an important step toward implementing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the nation's long-running civil war.
The electoral process was a complicated and massive one, as millions of Sudanese voted for candidates for state, regional and national offices. For most, it was their first ever opportunity to cast a vote, and their commitment to fostering democracy is to be commended.
There were serious problems with these elections, however. Concerns about the electoral environment led some opposition parties to boycott the balloting. During the five days of voting, there were numerous reports of confusion over voter lists, particularly in areas of Southern Sudan.
Along with others in the international community that are supporting Sudan in the peace process, the United States regrets that the National Elections Commission did not do more to prevent and address these problems before the vote. If disputes emerge as the ballots are counted, we strongly encourage the commission to deal with them in good faith.
Progress has been made, though, and it is essential to build on it. We call on the Sudanese authorities to draw lessons from the 2010 vote to ensure that the Southern Sudan autonomy referendum next year and other elections in the future do not suffer from the same flaws.