Sudan: National Elections Commission
Updated January 2011
See also: Southern Sudan Referendum Commission
The National Elections Commission (NEC) is established by the Interim Constitution of the Republic of Sudan (2005, Article 141). Schedule (A) of the Interim Constitution (Article 37) determines that the "Laws providing for National elections and their supervision by the National Elections Commission" are exclusively the prerogative of the national executive and legislature (as opposed to powers delegated to the Government of Southern Sudan in Schedule (B) and the States in Schedule (C)). The Interim Constitution further specifies in Article 141 3) that the general rules and procedures governing elections and the functions, terms and conditions of service of the National Elections Commission is determined by a National Elections Law, that is to say the National Elections Act 2008. The National Elections Act (2008, 10.(1)) stipulates that: "The Commission shall ensure and guarantee the enjoyment by all citizens without discrimination the exercise of their political rights to nominate and freely express their will in secret ballot in every periodic elections or referendum to be conducted under the provisions of the Constitution and this Act".
The NEC is composed of nine members, who are required to be "competent, non-partisan, impartial and representative personalities", appointed by the President in conformity with Appendix B1 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 (Interim Constitution 2005, Articles 141 (1), 58(2)(c)). Appendix B1 specifies that certain presidential appointments must be made with the consent of the 1st Vice President (in other words, the President of Southern Sudan, Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, Article 2.3.5) and Article 2 of the Appendix includes the National Elections Commission members amongst these appointments. The National Elections Act (2008, 6(1)) requires that the members be ratified by "two thirds of the members of the National Assembly, taking into consideration inclusiveness of representation to include the representation of women and other civil society groups. The Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson are appointed by the President, with the consent of the First Vice President, from among the members and hold full-time posts (National Elections Act 2008, 6(4), (5)). Members of the Commission are required to take an oath of office as laid out in section 9 of the National Elections Act.
The National Elections Act (2008, 6) lays down the qualifications for membership of the NEC. Commissioners must be:
- independent, competent, non-partisan and impartial,
- over 34 years old,
- of sound mind,
- literate, preferably with a university degree holder or have the status of a Court of Appeal Judge,
- never been convicted in the previous seven years of a crime involving honesty or moral turpitude or contravention of the election conduct, even if s/he enjoys amnesty, and
- not a candidate in general elections, or agent of a candidate
Removals and vacancies
A Commissioner may be dismissed from office in one of two ways (National Elections Act 2008, 8):
- A member who is absent from five consecutive ordinary meetings (see section 11 for details of these) or has been convicted of a crime "involving honesty or moral turpitude" may be dismissed by the Presidency.
- A member who has been found been incapacitated or partial by an investigation committee may be dismissed by the Presidency. The investigation committee is formed by the Chairperson of the NEC or Deputy Chairperson (if the Chairperson is the subject of investigation), with the approval of two thirds of the Commissioners, from Supreme Court level Judges.
If a post on the NEC falls vacant, as a result of dismissal, resignation, certified mental or physical incapacity or death, a successor is appointed within 30 days in the same way as the NEC is constituted (National Elections Act 2008, 7).
Term of Office
NEC members serve a term of six years, renewable once (National Elections Act 2008, 6(3)).
The NEC has the following functions (Interim Constitution 2005, Article 141 (2)):
- To prepare the voters' roll and update it annually.
- To organize and supervise the national, Southern Sudan and State executive and legislative elections.
- To conduct referenda.
- To perform any other relevant electoral functions as prescribed by law.
To the general functions specified in the Interim Constitution section 10(2) the National Elections Act adds a long list of specific duties that are summarized below:
- The determination of electoral constituencies.
- The issue of general rules of elections and referenda, procedures and schedules for campaigning, agents and observers, registration, polling and the count of the vote.
- The dissemination of forms and formats to be used, the preparation of the necessary documents, the determination of the procedure for the withdrawal of nomination and the publication of the final list of approved candidates.
- The establishment and maintenance of liaison and co-operation with political parties.
- The postponement of procedures of elections or referenda for any compelling reason and the determination of new dates, the cancelation of results in any centre or geographical constituency by a decision of the Court if there was corruption in the correctness of the procedure and the rectification of those procedures and the reorganization of the polling within sixty days.
- To take action against people or officials who engage in corrupt or illegal actions.
- The creation of an organizational chart of the Commission and the Secretariat General, the determination of the terms and conditions of service for the employees, the formation of committees required, the establishment of executive offices in Southern Sudan and all the States of Sudan and the recruitment of staff.
- The adoption of an annual current budget and budgets for elections and referenda processes.
Referenda excluded from the NEC's mandate
As regards referenda the Interim Constitution has two restrictions on the mandate of the NEC:
- Once the Southern Sudan Referendum Act has been promulgated a special Southern Sudan Referendum Commission must be created by the Presidency (Articles 220 (2)); that is to say the President of the Republic and the two Vice Presidents (Article 51(1)). This is with regard to the Articles 219-222: "The people of Southern Sudan shall have the right to self determination through a referendum to determine their future status", establishing the right of Southern Sudan to secede from the Republic of Sudan.
- In terms of Article 183(3), simultaneously with the referendum for Southern Sudan, a separate referendum will be held in the Abyei Area to determine whether Abyei should retain its special administrative status in the north or become part of Bahr el Ghazal State. In terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2005, Article 8.1 the Referendum Commission for the Abyei Area referendum will be established by the Presidency.
Immunity of NEC members
A Commissioner is immune from prosecution in the performance of duties unless a crime has been committed (National Elections Act 2008, 14).
The NEC was established on 17 November 2008 with the following members (UNDP 2008, 1, 5):
- Abel Alier (Chair)
- Prof Abdala Ahmed Abdalla (Deputy Chair)
- Prof Mahasin Haj Al Safi
- Philister Baya Lawiri
- James Wol Calmal
- Lt Gen Abdalla El Abdullah Al Hardall
- Dr Mohammed Tahir Abu SamraJames Wol Calmal
- Mukhtar Mohammed Mukhtar Alasam
- Lt Gen Al Hadi Mohammed Ahmed
Funding and accounting
The budget of the NEC is submitted to the Presidency and included in the annual national budget (National Elections Act 2008, 16(1)). The NEC is required to keep accounts of revenues and expenditures as laid down in the Financial and Accounting Procedures Act 2007, which are subject to annual audits under the auspices of the National Audit Chamber as well as end of any elections or referendum process; the audit report is tabled before the National Assembly (National Elections Act 2008, 16, 17).
Official web site
National Elections Commission:
- English: [www] http://nec.org.sd/new/new/english/index.php [opens new window] (accessed 17 Jan 2011).
- Arabic: [www] http://nec.org.sd/new/ [opens new window] (accessed 17 Jan 2011).
COMPREHENSIVE PEACE AGREEMENT 2005, [www] http://www.nec.org.sd/new/eng_doc/cpa.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 May 2010).
INTERIM CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SUDAN 2005, [www] http://www.nec.org.sd/new/eng_doc/constitution.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 May 2010).
NATIONAL ELECTIONS ACT 2008, [www] http://www.gurtong.org/ResourceCenter/documents/Reports/Elections-09/nationalelectionsact2008.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 May 2010).
UNDP 2008 Elections Assistance Monthly Bulletin, December, [www] http://www.sd.undp.org/updates/Bulletin_December_logonew.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 10 May 2010).