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Rumbek students demand immediate return of southerners to South Sudan

By Manyang Mayom

October 16, 2010 (RUMBEK) - Rumbek University students asked the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) and United Nations to help the return of southerners living in Khartoum and north Sudan before the region votes of independence referendum due for January.

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Students from Rumbek University hold a sign saying ’Unity by force is slavery’ at a demonstration in Rumbek Lakes state, South Sudan 16 Oct. 2010 (ST)

The Chairman of the Students’ Referendum Task Force, Thomas Mabor Majak, said that the Government of Southern Sudan, in collaboration with the UN, should undertake the “major task” of returning southerners to the south.

The fate of the southerners living in northern Sudan has become a key concern for many people of South Sudan as the country draw closer to the historical event of the referendum.

Simultaneously to the southern self determination vote the oil rich region of Abyei will vote on whether it wants to join the south or remain in the north.
Majak said that he believed that if there are disagreements between the north and south over the referenda southerners in the north could suffer discrimination.

In 2005 the southern rebels the SPLM signed a peace deal with the government in Khartoum ending 22 years of civil war.

After the death, on 30 July 2005, of the SPLM’s leader John Garang in a helicopter crash some southerners in Khartoum reacted violently. Southerners were then targeted themselves in reprisal attacks.

The Technical and Information Officer of the Students’ Referendum Task Force, James Madol, expressed optimism about the referendum, saying the vote will be peaceful and lead to the birth of a new country.

Madol expressed confidence that there will be development in the south after the referendum, especially to the regions educational institutions, road network, and health facilities.

Madol appealed to the youth of South Sudan to play active rolls in the referendum and vote wisely on January 9, 2011, saying that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.

It is estimated that at least 1.5 million southern Sudanese live in Sudan’s capital Khartoum and other northern towns of Sudan.

Early this week, Sudan Tribune reported, GoSS Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, James Kok Ruea, as saying that, “the Government of Southern Sudan has approved a $30m SDG (around $12.5m) budget to boost the planned repatriation of internally displaced southern Sudanese living in the north”.

South Sudan is widely expected to vote for independence in the poll, which is due to begin 9 January 2011.