A week-long training session in election security issues was completed by 200 Southern Sudan Police Service (SSPS) officers in Juba last week.
The training was organized by the Central Equatoria State (CES) government in collaboration with UN Police in an effort to ensure free and fair elections when voters go to the polls in April of next year, UNMIS reports.
Drawn from all six of the state’s counties, the young recruits will be deployed in violence-prone areas to respond swiftly to any outbreak of fighting that could hamper an orderly ballot.
At a ceremony marking the end of the session at the state government’s training centre, CES Minister of Local Government and Law Enforcement Charles Jongo said police officers will be better equipped to help citizens participate in the national elections and promote democracy in Sudan. “We will continue to train police and send them to the rural areas so that the elections are not tampered with,” he said.
SSPS Deputy Director for Training Brig. Ali Jackson Elia reminded recruits that the charged political climate of an election campaign could result in loss of life and destruction of property if law enforcement officers were not adequately prepared. “To ensure democracy through fair elections, the police need to be ready,” he noted.
The young officers are also undergoing a 12-week basic training course. UN Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Ecklund urged them to refrain from using force as much as possible in dealing with crowds at campaign rallies and other public events.
“No one can doubt your strength, but we must ask you to allow people to vote,” said Deputy Commissioner Ecklund.
“Don’t use the stick but reason with them instead. This is why we ask the police to do the job not the military.”