Home | News    Wednesday 17 November 2010

Southerners in Khartoum blames media for low registration turn out

By Ngor Arol Garang

November 16, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Southern Sudanese in the national capital Khartoum on Tuesday blamed low turnout for voter registration on poor media coverage and badly promoted registration centers.

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A registration centre in Khartoum. Southern Sudanese living in slums surrounding Khartoum were in no rush to register for the vote which may grant them their own nation, Nov. 16, 2010 (Reuters)

The voter registration for forthcoming self determination referendum for the people of South Sudan commenced on Monday and will continue until 1 December.

On Tuesday, the second day of the registration exercise, some of the centers in the national capital Khartoum, opened as early as 7 am but did received low numbers of voters.

Sultan Dut Aguer, a southern leader of internally displaced persons in the north, on Tuesday told Sudan Tribune in the Amarat area of Khartoum that the media have done little to enlighten potential south Sudanese voters residing in the city about the ongoing voter registration process.

"Although I believe one of the reasons why some of the centers continue to experience low turning out since yesterday is because the registration coincided with the Eid El-dhaya [Muslim holiday], I see that media coverage is low, especially in the description of registration centers,” said Sultan Aguer.

"Some of the centers are located in areas that need to be properly described on the national television so that our people see where they are located to go. This is very important because some of our people have never visited some areas of Khartoum since their arrival. The good example is of my own children who did not know Haj Yousif before, though we have lived for 13 years in Khartoum,” he explained.

Taking a covering tour around several registration centers in Khartoum, Sudan Tribune witnessed a low turnout especially at Tahnoun center at Al-Girafe West area in Khartoum.

Speaking to the press at the center, Ismaeil Ibrahim, a referendum official supervising registration center admitted that no one had come to register at the center.

"Since yesterday, we have been able to start as early as possible but the center continues to experience low turning out. It is now twelve o’clock yet we do not see people coming for registration although there a lot of south Sudanese walking about around the center,” said Ishmael.

The official explained that registration starts exactly at 7:30 each morning till five in the evening.

"We are strictly following registration timings. Registration starts exactly 7:30 am and ends at 5 pm each day," he said.

He said the only challenge they have experienced has been low turnout.

"We have all registration materials and we enough manpower. We are lacking nothing. We have transport for registration staff. The only challenge we are experiencing since yesterday is low turning out for registration,” he explained.

"There is adequate security. We have dedicated police personnel assigned to this center. We do everything at their watch. There are also a lot of identifiers, local and international observers."

He attributed low turning out for registration to the Eid holiday. “There are reasons for this low turning out, maybe because people are still on holiday.”

The referendum act sets out conditions for registration at the centers for people wanting to register and vote in the upcoming referendum. Voters must be 18 years and above and provide adequate identification.