Home | News    Tuesday 16 November 2010

Long queues and huge turnout at start of voter registration in Sudan

By Julius N. Uma

November 15, 2010 (JUBA) - Hundreds of people on Monday thronged at the various registration centers in Juba to officially register, marking the official commencement of the much delayed voter registration process for the region’s independence referendum in January.

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Most registration centers in Juba, the Southern Sudan capital opened as early as 7:15 am, with officials, clad in their yellow-colored attires set to begin their work. Some centers had voters queuing up as early as 7:00pm local time.

There are 2,635 registration centers spread across the 10 states of the semi-autonomous region; while the north the country has 165 centers, according to the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau (SSRB).

For someone to be registered at a particular center, he or she must be a southern Sudanese national of 18 years and above but should be in possession of a written certificate or document issued by a Sudanese authority, which proves identity.

However, for refugees to be registered as per regulations set by Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC), they must be in possession of a written certificate or document issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) proving identity.


Leading by example, Southern Sudan President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, visited a center located at Dr. John Garang de Mabior mausoleum and officially registered at about 9:15am local time, amidst cheers and jubilations from over a hundred people present to witness the event.

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Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit registers to vote in the January 2011 referendum on southern independence at Dr. John Garang de Mabior mausoleum in Juba, Nov. 15, 2010 (ST)

In a short media briefing, Kiir appealed to the population to register in large numbers so that the January referendum, which he said will comes once in a lifetime, can be conducted successfully.

“Now this referendum will happen in reality. For me, I wanted to first see the President registering before I can think of also visiting my center in Hai Malakal. Separation oyee,” a motorcycle rider, who only identified himself as Musa told Sudan Tribune.

Juma Peter, a student of Juba University said he remains optimistic that the referendum will go on as planned in a free and fair manner without any form of violence, urging those who have not yet registered to do so before the deadline.

Voter’s registration, according to the timetable released by SSRC, officially ends on December 1.

An official based at Munuki West registration center told Sudan Tribune by phone that, Monday’s process, which initially started on a low note eventually picked up by afternoon and that by evening, hundreds had been registered.

In Khartoum, registration centers were empty as many southerners who live in the Sudanese capital made the trip south to enroll or abstained from registering altogether for fear of intimidation by the ruling party in the North.

SSRC also established out-of-country registration and voting centers in eight countries with the largest numbers of Southern Sudanese living outside Sudan. These countries are; Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA).

The process is being coordinated by Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRC) with assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

But yesterday the SSRC chief Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil announced that registration would be delayed a few days in Egypt because of a communication breakdown with the government. It would also be delayed in the United States and Australia because southerners there had asked for more registration centers.