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Voter registration for south Sudan referendum closes

Arab World Materials 9 December 2010 02:08 (UTC +04:00)
Voter registration for the south Sudan referendum, slated for Jan. 2011, closed on Wednesday. The voters' turnout, particularly in north Sudan, remained low even hours before the deadline of the registration, although South Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) earlier extended the voter registration for another week, Xinhua reported.
Voter registration for south Sudan referendum closes

Voter registration for the south Sudan referendum, slated for Jan. 2011, closed on Wednesday. The voters' turnout, particularly in north Sudan, remained low even hours before the deadline of the registration, although South Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) earlier extended the voter registration for another week, Xinhua reported.

"More than three million voters have been registered in south Sudan, 105,580 in north Sudan and 52,625 in eight overseas countries," George Makier, SSRC Spokesman, told reporters here Wednesday.

He further excluded any intention by the SSRC to extend the voter registration period for a second time, adding that the commission has not received a request from either the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) or the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) to extend the registration period.

The NCP has criticized the SSRC performance during the registration, which some NCP officials said that the commission failed to confront an organized campaign to encourage the southerners in north Sudan not to register.

The SSRC, however, defended that it has exerted great efforts to overcome many difficulties including lack of logistics. "The SSRC has fulfilled its duties towards the referendum arrangements despite the difficulties and criticisms," said SSRC Chairman Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil at a press conference in Khartoum Wednesday.

Khalil noted that the delay on the SSRC establishment was among the reasons which caused the time shortness. "If we were given more time, we will do better. We have addressed the Sudanese Presidency four months earlier to delay the referendum, but yet we received no response," he said.

He also appealed the NCP and the SPLM, the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), to make the atmosphere positive and confirm with a statement or a declaration that they would accept the referendum result calmly whatever it is.

He explained that the SSRC has established committees inside and outside Sudan to look over the complaints. "Five days have been set for dealing the complaints and it was not enough to look into complaints concerning a complicated, sensitive and decisive process," he said.

A referendum on self-determination for southern Sudan is scheduled to be held on Jan. 9, 2011 where the population of south Sudan will decide whether the region should remain united with the north or secede to establish an independent state. The referendum is stipulated by the CPA, inked between north and south Sudan in January 2005, which ended a two-decade of civil war between the two sides.

Around five million southern Sudanese have the right to vote in the referendum. There are still many barriers hurdling the Sudanese government partners about one month before the referendum, including the issue of border demarcation and the difference over the referendum of the country's disputed oil-rich area of Abyei.

The NCP stressed that it is not possible to conduct a referendum without demarcation of the borders between north and south Sudan where most of the country's oil reserve is allocated. The SPLM in turn said that the ruling NCP intended to delay the border demarcation, which was scheduled to complete by July 2005, insisting that the referendum would not bind with the border demarcation.

Abyei remains another major threat to reignite the war between north and south Sudan, particularly after the two sides failed to agree on the procedures regarding the region's referendum, which is to be conducted coincident with the south Sudan referendum to decide whether it should remain part of the north or join the south.

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