Home | News    Thursday 25 November 2010

Carter Center says voter registration in Sudan running smoothly despite some hitches


November 24, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The registration process for eligible voters in the South Sudan referendum is running smoothly for the most part but some issues “require urgent adjustment”, said the US-based Carter Center.

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Officers wait inside a registration center during the third day of registration to vote in an upcoming referendum at a registration point in Khartoum November 17, 2010 (Reuters)

Last week, Sudan witnessed the beginning of the signup process for Southerners who will decide next January whether they want to create their own state or remain united with the North. Most Sudanese however now appear resigned to the inevitability of the South’s secession.

The independence vote marks the final stage of a 2005 peace process between the north and south of Sudan which ended Africa’s longest civil war.

The registration will end on December 1st and it is estimated that there are around 5.5 million southerners eligible to vote inside and outside Sudan. So far 1 million people have registered.

“The Carter Center welcomes the successful opening of voter registration for the Southern Sudan Referendum on self-determination and congratulates the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) and Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau (SSRB) on their preparations for the first days of registration, particularly in Southern Sudan where the process is challenged by difficult logistics,” said the Carter Center in a statement released on Wednesday.

“Although the registration appears to be running smoothly in nearly all locations a few key components of the process require urgent adjustment. The SSRC should take action to ensure that eligible individuals are able to participate in the voter registration within the time remaining and that the registration adheres to the procedures outlined in the Southern Sudan Referendum Act and Voter Registration Rules and Regulations”.

Among the issues pointed out by the monitoring organization is the lack of registration materials in some regions of the South due to high turnout and non-presence of identifiers in some centers who can certify the identity of some individuals who are not in possession of documents.

Furthermore, Carter Center said that the distribution of polling stations hinders wider participation most commonly in and around Khartoum and in rural areas, Southern Kordofan, Western Bahr al Ghazal, and Jonglei states.

It also called on SSRC and SSRB to quickly establish committees that will be tasked with reviewing and deciding on challenges presented to them from any parties on the registration process.

The Carter Center has deployed 46 observers across 22 states of Sudan. Additionally, 26 Carter Center observers are deployed in Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, United Kingdom, and United States and have made more than 175 visits to centers including those in camps and settlement areas, such as Masindi, Hoima, and Arua in Uganda, and Eldoret and Lokichoggio in Kenya.

However, the registration of Southerners in Egypt has yet to commence though it is expected to start on Thursday.

The Carter Center also noted the trade of accusations between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) that each side is intimidating voters to manipulate the referendum outcome.

The NCP has threatened that it will not recognize the result of the vote if the violations in the registration process are not rectified by the SSRC.

“While allegations of manipulation deserve to be thoroughly investigated, some of the members of the NCP and SPLM appear more interested in scoring political points than in the integrity of the registration process,” the Carter Center said.

“The Carter Center urges members of the NCP and the SPLM to raise any well-founded concerns directly with the SSRC in the spirit of cooperation and constructive dialogue. Both parties should refrain from using inflammatory political rhetoric that could cause an increase in tension. Systematic efforts by political parties or other organizations to force individuals to register or prevent them from registering would violate the basic principles of a free and credible referendum”.

This week Southern Sudanese in Uganda are reported to have received death threats should they attempt to register for voting.


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