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The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Sudan

Sudan

In 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ended one of the longest and deadliest civil wars in modern history—the Second Sudanese Civil War—and established a path for a democratic transition. NDI began working toward this transition in Sudan in 2002 through programs aimed at promoting citizen participation in politics and government accountability, including public opinion research, civil society support, civic education and election monitoring. Sudan has since met important CPA benchmarks—most notably holding the first national elections in 24 years in April 2010, and holding the Southern Sudan Self-Determination Referendum in January 2011, which resulted in the formation of the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) on July 9, 2011.

Apart from these milestones, however, peace and democracy remain elusive in Sudan. Reports indicate that violence continues in Darfur while peace efforts have been stalled repeatedly. Violence between Sudan’s military and rebel fighters has beset Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states since disputed state elections in May 2011, an ongoing humanitarian crisis that has prompted international condemnation and U.S. congressional hearings. In 2012, tensions between Sudan and South Sudan reached a boiling point when the Sudanese military bombed territory in South Sudan, leading to hostilities over the disputed Heglig (or Panthou) oil fields located along the Sudan-South Sudan border. Resolutions adopted in May 2012 by the African Union and United Nations Security Council hold the possibility of bringing stability and peace, but the future is uncertain. 

Civil society, government officials and political parties in Sudan face enormous challenges to peace and democracy in such an unstable political environment. Recent economic volatility and controversial austerity measures in Sudan since the separation of South Sudan has only furthered these challenges. While NDI closed its Khartoum office in January 2012 due to funding constraints, the Institute is eager to return to Sudan. NDI hopes to build on its strong relationships and expertise to promote democratic processes and support Sudanese civil society to monitor future elections, build viable opposition parties, increase women’s political participation and improve government service delivery for a more stable democracy in the future. For information on NDI South Sudan, click here.

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NDI in Sudan

Through its 2009-2011 U.S. Agency for International Development program, NDI sought to mobilize an informed public to serve as the foundation for a democratic future. NDI partnered with local organizations to conduct domestic observation of the 2010 national elections in all 25 states, civic and voter education, the Let’s Talk radio program and focus group research in the Three Areas (Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei).

Domestic Observation

During the April 2010 national election and the Southern Sudan Self-Determination Referendum in January 2011, NDI provided financial and technical support to civil society organizations in northern and southern Sudan to observe these political processes. Two coalitions of civil society organizations—the Sudan Group for Democracy and Elections (SuGDE) and its southern counterpart, the South Sudanese Network for Democracy and Elections (SuNDE)—trained and deployed 400 observers for the April 2010 elections in all 25 states. The groups collected and electronically stored more than 13,500 observation reports, analyzed them and wrote a report using that data. The same month, SuGDE and SuNDE released the first-ever nonpartisan nation-wide domestic observation report in Sudan, in which they declared, based on their observations, that “the elections did not fulfill the Interim Constitution’s and CPA’s aspirations for democratic transition and did not adequately meet the requirements of the National Elections Commission rules and regulations.” 

The two groups continued their cooperation for the voting on the 2011 Southern Sudan Self-Determination Referendum where they used more than 3,000 observers and collected more than 11,000 observer reports that were analyzed. SuGDE and SuNDE issued a joint statement on the polling process, noting that it was mostly free and fair and met the 60 percent turnout threshold. NDI also supported SuGDE to draft a series of electoral reform recommendations and produce a documentary about its work.

Civic and Voter Education in Sudan

Under its USAID-funded program, NDI worked with local partners in Sudan to get out important civic education messages. During the 2011 Southern Sudan Self-Determination Referendum, NDI and partner Catholic Relief Services (CRS) reached 1.2 million northern and southern Sudanese through voter education efforts. During the April 2010 elections, NDI and partners SuGDE and SuNDE educated over one million citizens on the voting process and their rights. Voter education activities included briefings for community leaders, presentations during busy market days, door-to-door information sharing and listening groups. NDI also worked with partners in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states on the CPA-mandated popular consultations process (which was suspended in Southern Kordofan in May 2011 following election-related violence) and continued to engage citizens on the overall political process.

Focus Group Research in Sudan's Three Areas

Beginning in 2004, NDI conducted qualitative public opinion research in Sudan’s Three Areas to help policymakers, civil society groups and the international community better understand citizens' views and perspectives during the country's dynamic transitional period. To conduct this research, NDI relied upon focus group discussions, allowing chosen participants to compare perspectives, exchange ideas and discuss the political environment to offer a fuller snapshot of public opinion. NDI's research in the Three Areas not only gauged attitudes, but also highlighted citizens' needs and expectations. NDI continues to conduct regular public opinion research in South Sudan. In 2010, the then-vice president of the semi-autonomous southern Sudan and current vice president of South Sudan Riek Machar Teny said the NDI focus group studies "have helped us to revise our policies and highlight issues we need to address as a government." For a full listing of focus group research related to Sudan, please click here.

Let's Talk: Radio Programming for Civic Education

One of the best ways to ensure widespread communication in Sudan is through radio broadcasting.  Before closing its program in January 2012, NDI conducted radio-based civic education in Sudan’s Three Areas beginning in 2007 through its Let’s Talk! radio program.  Let’s Talk!, a 30 minute program with a drama, an educational section and a call-in discussion segment, introduces listeners to civic topics ranging from voter education to human rights. Let’s Talk! episodes were originally focused on basic concepts outlined in the CPA and evolved over time to address topics such as the 2011 Southern Sudan Referendum.  

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:

Washington, D.C.
Brianne Lute, Program Manager 
blute@ndi.org
(202) 728-5528

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Published Publication Title Author
01/01/2014 Civic Updates
Civic Update
National Democratic Institute
11/23/2011 Building a Nation: South Sudanese Share Their Thoughts on the Creation of a Successful State
Focus Group
Traci D. Cook
05/12/2011 The Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections (SuGDE) South Kordofan Election Statement
Statement
The Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections (SuGDE)
02/04/2011 SuNDE and SuGDE Statement on the Tabulation Process and Announcement of the 2011 Southern Sudan Referendum Preliminary Results
Statement
SuNDE SuGDE
01/20/2011 Preliminary Statement on the 2011 Southern Sudan Referendum Processes
Statement
SuNDE SuGDE
01/20/2011 Will of the People of Southern Sudan Credibly Expressed Through Southern Sudan Referendum
Press Release
SuNDE SuGDE
01/17/2011 SuNDE and SuGDE Observers Finish Observation Data Entry and Analysis Begins
Press Release
SuNDE SuGDE
01/08/2011 SuNDE and SuGDE to Observe the Referendum with Over 3000 Volunteers Largest and Only Sudan Wide Domestic Observation Effort
Election Statement
SuNDE and SuGDE
01/04/2011 SuNDE and SuGDE Pre-Polling Statement
Statement
SuNDE SuGDE
12/21/2010 SuNDE and SuGDE Statement on the Exhibition and Objections Process
Statement
SuNDE SuGDE
12/13/2010 SuNDE Releases Statement on Voter Registration Process
Press Release
SuNDE
12/13/2010 2011 Southern Sudan Referendum Voter Registration Statement
Report
SuNDE SuGDE
11/13/2010 The Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections Statement on the Eve of the Voter Registration Process
Statement
SuNDE
11/13/2010 SuNDE Assess Referendum Processes on Eve of Registration 700 Observers to be Deployed in Sudan
Press Release
SuNDE
10/27/2010 The Youth Bulge in Africa - Opportunities for Constructive Engagement in the Political Process
Speech
Shari Bryan
09/30/2010 Southern Sudan at the Crossroads
Report
National Democratic Institute
04/24/2010 Elections Statement from the Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections (SuGDE) and the Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections (SuNDE)
Statement
The Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections (SuGDE) and the Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections (SuNDE)
04/24/2010 Elections statement
Statement
SuGDE - SuNDE
12/11/2009 SuNDE Observation Statement on the Voter Registration Process
Statement
SuNDE
09/30/2009 Imagining the Election: A Look at What Citizens Know and Expect of Sudan's 2010 Vote
Focus Group Report
Traci D. Cook