South Sudan: Registered voters nears 1 million mark in first week

By Julius N. Uma

November 23, 2010 (JUBA) – A total of 997, 121 voters, representing about 34 percent of the estimated southern population, have so far registered for the regions vote on independence in January, according to the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau (SSRB).

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Justice Chan Reec Madut, SSRB’s boss addressing the media in Juba upon receiving voters registration materials recently. The number of registered voters in South Sudan has hit 1million in a period of one week. (ST)

The figure releases is based on reports obtained from 891 registration centers, mainly the larger urban areas. South Sudan has a total of 2,623 registration center spread across the region.

Registration for the secession vote, agreed as part of a 2005 north-south peace deal, began on November 15 and ends on December 1. The referendum bureau said that the turnout was encouraging.

“Having close to a million people registered within just a period of one week from commencement of official voter’s registration is commendable. We encourage this kind of spirit and urge those who have not yet registered to do so within the remaining days,” Achier Deng, SSRB’s Commissioner for operations told journalists Tuesday.

The southern-based body acknowledged the challenges face in accessing some rural locations. It said it had identified centers, which were in dire need of additional materials and ensured they were delivered immediately.

Deng said, “More than 50 centers have been re-supplied and over 1,690 books and 169 kits have been sent out to aid in the re-supplying of centers where the turn-out has been high in the first week of registration.”

The SSRB Commissioner urged voters to seek alternative registration centers within their vicinity, in the event that they encounter long queues or shortage of materials at the first center they visit.

He specifically appealed to women in the semi-autonomous region to turn out in large numbers and register during the process. Deng urged men to support their wives, mothers and children who are eligible for registration.

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Achier Deng, SSRB’s Commissioner for operations (L) flanked by Samuel Maccar, his counterpart for public outreach addressing the media in Juba on November 19, 2010 (ST)

On the status of the Diaspora situation, Deng said registration is progressing as planned with the exception of Egypt. A delegation from Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) is expected in Egypt, before voting begins in Sudan’s northern neighbor.

The other countries registering voters are: Australia, CanadaEthiopiaKenyaUgandaUK, and US.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited accreditation of the media, initially earmarked to begin prior to the registration process has begun. Accreditation will, according to SSRB, ensure that journalists have unhindered access to referendum centers and people involved in the process.

The referendum, a key part of the 2005 Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is scheduled for January 9, 2011.

(ST)

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