Home | News    Saturday 27 November 2010

Southern Sudanese get more time to register for referendum voting

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November 26, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The South Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) today issued an unexpected decision to extend the registration period for eligible voters by an extra week until December 8th.

Southerners inside Sudan and abroad began registering for the referendum on November 15, a key phase in the lead-up to the historic vote. It is estimated that there are five million people are eligible to register for the vote.

So far more than one million Southerners have registered for voting with very weak turnout in the North of the country.

The nine-member commission headquartered in Khartoum justified the extension by noting delays in delivering additional registrations materials needed to address shortfall in some of the centers which experienced more turnout than anticipated.

“The south Sudan referendum bureau would like to assure that the decision to extend the voter registration process was a decision taken by the referendum commission after holding discussion with all its members and was for technical reasons,” Achier Deng, South Sudan Referendum Bureau (SSRB) Commissioner for Operations told a press conference in Juba, the South Sudan capital.

The commission, however, stressed that the extension does not affect the scheduled date on which the plebiscite would take place of January 9, 2011.

This contradicts assertions of SSRC chief Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil recently in which he said that even the slightest delay in registration process could force pushing the vote date.

“The extension will allow more time for those who were unable to register because of lack of materials to be registered and therefore the extension is in the interest of all eligible voters allowing for the maximum participation in the process,” Achier said.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has been pushing for extending the registration period and expressed frustration with the low turnout in the North. It also accused the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) of intimidating voters in the North to ensure that they don’t register and boost chances of a pro-independence vote.

The Sudanese information minister Rabie Abdel-Aati Obeid on Friday said the extension was necessary to allow the referendum commission to organize a credible vote.

“At the beginning of this phase of registration, the turnout, even in the south and north, was not satisfactory due to obstacles. Some of these were created by some elements, especially in the northern states, terrorizing and threatening. Also, Eid days (Muslim holiday), vacations, the movement of people outside the cities are far away from registration centers, this affected the registration,” Obeid said.

“In addition, there were some obstacles already shown by the referendum commission saying that alot of facilities were not provided, financial support was not provided and some other logistic needs” he added.

2 MINISTERS FAIL TO REGISTER DUE TO SHORTAGE OF MATERIALS

On Thursday, an embarrassing situation occurred when Pagan Amum, the Minister for Peace and Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) Implementation was unable to register at the center he had visited, after officials ran short of voters’ registrations materials.

Deng Alor, the minister in charge of Regional Cooperation also visited the same center on Friday morning, but also could not register since the materials had not yet been brought to the center.

The Juba registration center, located at Dr. John Garang mausoleum is the very one that registered South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir Mayardit on November 15.

Both Amum and Alor, who arrived close to mid-day, were eventually registered as they proudly displayed their voter’s cards, chanting “freedom Oyee”.

Manyang Malook Akot, the head of the center attributed the shortage of registration materials to “slow response” from the referendum state high committees established by SSRB.

“According to the usual procedure, we are supposed to report shortage of registration materials to the state sub-committee who will forward out issues to the referendum high committee at state levels, before it reaches the bureau. But sometimes they take long to respond to our requests,” Akot told Sudan Tribune from the Juba-based mausoleum.

But SSRB official Achier Deng attributed the shortage of registration materials to overwhelming turnout by potential voters.

SSRB, according to him is closely working with the all the state high committees and counties to address the communication problems. Specifically, he said the bureau has formed special reporting teams whose tasks are to visit referendum centers, record figures and report back the number of registrants and needs for additional materials as a matter of urgency.

Currently, Southern Sudan alone has 2,623 registration centers while the north of the country has only 165.

Meanwhile, the referendum commission has now given a go ahead for its team to register prisoners detained in the various detention centers. The process, according to the referendum bureau, is expected to begin shortly depending on the location and availability of materials.

“As part of the process of registering prisoners, we shall have mobile teams dispatched to the various prison locations. The aim of this is to allow everyone, including prisoners to participate in next year’s referendum exercise,” Mr. Achier told journalists.

However, although officials from the bureau acknowledged what they described as the peaceful and smooth registration process, it still appealed to women to turn up in large numbers and register.

The first week of voters’ registration recorded very low turnout of women, yet they constitute nearly 60% of the population, according to statistics from Sudan’s 5th Population Census and Housing results conducted in 2008.

Reacting to this, Achier said, “As the turnout of women remain a concern, we reiterate our appeal to all Sudanese women to come out and register and all men to support their wives, mothers, sisters and daughters in coming out to register.”

The referendum for the possible independence of the south remains a key part of Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA); the accord that ended over two-decades of a bloody civil war fought between north and south.

(ST)

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  • 27 November 2010 05:37, by Abionmur!

    Well let all southerners register including menh de nyan-de!

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    • 27 November 2010 07:14, by Ajok Garang

      Good news for us and no one will be left out this time wether being living underground or under the sea ,even my grand mom and Grand Dad is going to register by that time .

      Ajok Garang Ajok .

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      • 27 November 2010 16:34, by Gatwech

        Dear readers,

        It is potentially very dangerous to extend the registration period for another one week until December 8. This for sure will justify the NCP’s influenced Southern Sudan Referendum Commission to extend the voting date from 9th January for another week and so on.

        Southerners in the commission such as Justice Chan Reec and Achier should not prove to be easy-going stooges and agree to any trick by NCP. If they can allow the registration period to be extended using the trick that materials are not enough or have not reached the centers on time, then what will prevent the NCP from using the same game. It will say the materials have not reached the voting centers on time and can ask for extension from 9th January.

        Also, there is no logic to push people to register if they feel they will not vote. This is another trick by NCP to make it possible to register huge number of southerners who will not turn out to vote when the time comes. 15 days is more than enough for people to turn out. If they did not turn out from 15th Novemeber to December 1, then it is not because of time limit. These are people who feel that they may not vote for so many reasons. Why push them to register if they cannot vote. This is a dangerous trick by NCP which those of Chan Reec and Achier should not easily join as southerners.

        Again, another trick is the so-called 5 million southerners eligible to register. Who said that they are 5 million? They could be one million or two million. This is another trick that NCP uses to complain tomorrow if only two million register, it will say that 3 million have not registered and therefore the decision to secede was decided by minority. Our government in the South and the members in the referendum commission should be wise enough to see these tricks coming up.

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      • 27 November 2010 19:34, by Garang

        I have strongly agree with Gatwech and those who didn’t support the extension of the voters registration date, simply because our interest here is to see at least 60% of the total register turnout during the polling date, but not just a matter of registering everybody and at the end of the day they will not turn out to vote.please let use learn from the past otherwise Arabs are tricky they will use that opportunity and again posphone the polling date . "Adhuöm akän adhum cï wudït wït duk cöl aben yï wït" Garang Deng Anuei

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  • 27 November 2010 06:35, by LL Reuben

    I agree with you sir!

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  • 27 November 2010 08:19, by Joseph

    Well done, this will encourage those who are far away from registrations centers to catch with time to register.

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  • 27 November 2010 11:47, by makuei

    I gather registration has been extended upto December 18. This is not good news. Guess what? It all alters the timetable.

    I am not quite sure the vote will take place on the scheduled date 9 of January. And NCP rejoices on hearing this news because the extension favours their constant moves of delaying every exercise that means so important to the South.

    I won’t celebrate at this news.

    Raphael

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  • 27 November 2010 14:20, by Obol Sam Gabriel

    Thank you sirs,if you are not yet registered please come back to the registration center sirs and register Pagan and Deng oyeeeeeeeeeeeeee the great hero’s.

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  • 27 November 2010 15:16, by Takpiny

    There is no need to extended registration period as this will give those who have appetite to delay referendum process one more reason to think about other obstacles of delaying the voting date which scheduled on January 9, 2011

    Also my surprise and question is that does Mr Deng Alor has a right to registered and vote in the southern Sudan’s referendum!

    My dear readers I know that some people will approve me wrong but as far as know the CPA gave people of Abyei region a right of self determination a part from southerners which is means that people of Abyei do not have the same right as their brothers in the south Sudan to register and vote in the south Sudan’s referendum because they have their own referendum which will take place in the nearly future .
    I like people of Abyei to be given a equal right for every thing in the south Sudan such as job vacancies and so on but not a right of register and vote in the south Sudan’s referendum this might put referendum result in the risk from international observers because Abyei citizen are southerners but they are not belong to south Sudan region at the moment .

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  • 28 November 2010 08:10, by marie

    I think there is something missing in the whole process. In the South Sudan referendum act, it stated the turn out of 60% of those who registered, it did not mention anything about the number of people who have to be registered, otherwise the NCP is sticking to the point that any number which is less than 5 million of those registered would be invalidated by NCP.

    Definitely, the extention of the registration to Dec 8 in Sudan and December 22 in Diaspora would have a rippling effect on the subsequent table. The votes would not be casted on Jan 09, mark my words. This is exactly what the chairman of SSRC hinted on, saying holding the voting on Jan 09 would be a miracle. Our guys in the commission seem to flow with the situation.

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