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Darfur residents begin voting on administrative referendum

April 11, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Polling stations in Darfur opened on Monday for a three-day vote to determine whether to keep the current separate five states or reunite as one entity.

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A child walks with her mother to their shelter at the Zam Zam camp for displaced people in North Darfur on 11 June 2014 (Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/AFP/Getty Images)

The move comes in fulfilment of one of the requirements of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) of July 2011.

The head of Darfur Regional Authority Tijani al-Sissi said the administrative arrangements made by the governments of Darfur’s five states would ensure the success of the process.

Al-Sissi, who spoke to reporters in North Darfur state capital, El-Fasher, pointed that the Darfur Referendum Commission (DRC) exerted significant efforts to register the voters who exceeded 3,5 million people, calling for the need to facilitate their access to the ballot boxes.

For his part, the DRC chairman Omer Ali Gamaa stressed that his commission didn’t receive any complaint on the conduct of the polling, pointing to the preventive plans put forward by the police to ensure the success of the process.

The DRC deputy chairman Abdel-Aziz al-Samani said the commission approved 93 national monitoring groups besides 16 foreign groups to observe the process.

The national group for civil society organizations said 2500 of its local observers are taking part in the referendum, stressing keenness to coordinate efforts and logistical support for the process across Darfur’s five state.

The head of the referendum higher committee in South Darfur state Siddig al-Nur said the voting started on Monday morning in 406 polling stations in all localities.

He told the official news agency SUNA that the number of the registered voters in the state reached 1,011,198 people.

The governor of West Darfur state Khalil Abdallah said the information received from the various localities confirm that the polling is proceeding well, expecting that 50% of the registered would vote in the first day at 66 polling stations in El-Geneina out of the 204 stations in the state.

For his part, the head of the referendum higher committee in North Darfur state Fadl Allah Guma’a said that voting has commenced in 500 polling stations in the 18 localities of the state.

He pointed that the number of the registered voters reached 1,000,032 people, saying the reports received indicate that the voting process is going smoothly.

The head of the Referendum Higher Committee in Central Darfur state Haydar al-Sheikh al-Hindi said the polling stations were ready to receive the voters since the early morning on Monday, pointing the voters wouldn’t face any difficulties in exercising their constitutional right.

Meanwhile, the member of the referendum higher committee in East Darfur state Youssef al-Habib said the 153 polling stations across the state began to receive the voters in the presence of the national and foreign observers.

Darfur was a single region until 1994, when it was divided into three states, with a further two added in 2012.

The referendum is supported by the former rebel groups that become part of the federal government in Khartoum, but Darfur holdout rebel groups and Sudanese opposition parties say peace should be prioritized before. On the other side, the government persists that the plebiscite is part of the signed peace agreements.

On Saturday, the United States State Department said holding a referendum to determine the administrative status of Darfur under the current conditions will be credible.