European Union Pulls Observers out of Darfur

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The European Union (EU) on April 7 pulled its election observers from Darfur amid security concerns.

Sudan is on the cusp of its first multi-party elections in 24 years, but the election is being marred by boycotts from opposition forces who say it will be nothing more than a farce and that conflict will continue in the war-torn country.

“I have decided to come back with…. the six EU observers who are in Darfur,” Veronique De Keyser, head of the EU’s election mission in Sudan told reporters. “In some parts of Darfur the violence is terrible. The humanitarians cannot access this area and if [their] aid cannot access [it], we cannot access.”

The six EU observers arrived in Darfur in March, but have had difficulty performing their task because of the violence in the region.

“We can only have a very partial view, so how can we observe properly in Darfur,” De Keyser said. “The credibility of the mission is at stake. People have been asking how can you observe in Darfur, and this is a question I have to answer.”

With the election observers gone, there are some who say the election should not and will not proceed.

“I think that it really suggests that the election, especially in Darfur, is not likely to go forward,” Jendayi Frazer, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, told CNN. “I know that the National Congress Party [in Sudan] will continue to push for that election and many of the international community would feel that it’s unfortunate that the election is not going forward.”

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