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Sudan parliament approves electoral commission created under peace deal

[JURIST] The Parliament of Sudan [official website] on Monday approved the appointment of a nine-member independent electoral commission to oversee the country's upcoming elections. Sudanese president Oman al-Bashir [BBC profile] along with vice presidents Salva Kiir and Ali Osman Taha nominated the members of the commission earlier this year and the approval finalizes its creation. The commission was formed to ensure free democratic elections in the country, and was called for as a part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) [PDF, text], which brought an official end to Sudan's civil war. Elections were originally planned for 2009, but some suspect that delays in constituting the electoral commission as well as a pending International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant [application, PDF; JURIST report] for al-Bashir could delay or influence the polling. AFP has more.

Shortly after the vote on Monday, Sudanese police arrested more than 60 journalists [Sudan Tribune report] who had been protesting against government censorship outside the parliament building. According to the protesters, government officials have been screening newspaper reports since al-Bashir's indictment by the ICC. AFP has more.

In July, the parliament passed a long-anticipated electoral law [JURIST report] that dictates how the country's parliamentary seats will be allotted. The law reserves some seats for candidates chosen by popular vote, and some for proportional representation of political parties including seats reserved for women. Following the signing of the CPA in 2005, the country also approved of a new constitution, installed a new government, and al-Bashir lifted the country's state of emergency [JURIST reports], except in Darfur and a region on the eastern border.

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