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Sudan says 90 percent covered on last day of census

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May 6, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan’s highly politicised census drew to a close on Tuesday with monitors estimating the country was 90 percent covered, although many in the capital Khartoum said they had not yet been counted.

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An enumerator interviews a resident on the opening day of Sudan’s 5th National Population and Housing Census in Khartoum, Sudan Tuesday April 22, 2008. (AP)

The census will help determine wealth and power sharing between Sudan’s north and south — which fought a two-decade long civil war — ahead of next year’s elections, the country’s first democratic vote in 23 years.

But disputes over its content and procedure have delayed it for months and observers fear many may reject its results.

The census was hit by boycotts, demonstrations and lost questionnaires. More than 100 northern monitors were expelled from the south and Darfur rebels said they kidnapped 13 staff.

"We have done it at last and we have done it successfully," said the head of the census monitoring commission Abdel Bagi Gailani. "There is degree of coverage reached which is quite acceptable to me."

"I can guesstimate it as much as 90 percent of the whole of the country — this is a marvellous success," Gailani said.

MANY UNCOUNTED

Sudan’s 2005 north-south peace accord did not cover the separate conflict in its western Darfur region where many people, including those in camps housing some 2 million people, rejected the count because they do not trust the government.

Gailani said West Darfur was covered 85 percent, and North and South Darfur states covered 90 percent.

But people in at least seven districts of Khartoum said they had not been counted and neither had many of their friends and family, raising doubts about the accuracy of the count.

Gailani said he himself had not been counted. He said census staff were considering opening some offices for one or two days after the count so that those who were missed could be included.

In the south many said it was unlikely everyone would be counted before the end of the day on Tuesday.

Gabriel Duar, a local official in the rural south, said some people would be left out of the census because he had no boat to cross a river and count people on the other side.

"We don’t have an area that has reached 100 percent," southern Sudan’s Commission for Census, Statistics and Evaluation head Isaiah Chol Aruai told journalists.

"(But) there’s no state below 80 or 85 percent".

Aruai said challenges included insecurity, heavy and early rains and larger-than-expected numbers of people in some areas.

Large numbers of refugees and people displaced by the north-south conflict had returned home since mapping was completed a year ago, rendered it inaccurate, Arwai said.

(Reuters)

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