The United States continues to support a peaceful, on-time referendum for Southern Sudan that reflects the will of the people. This graphic outlines the steps that must be taken to achieve an on-time referendum, and depicts the progress that has been made thus far. The United States is working closely with the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, and international partners to achieve successful completion of all of these steps.
In recent weeks, several important steps have been initiated and several components are being successfully implemented. The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) finalized a budget for the referendum and submitted it to the Ministry of Finance for funding, and released an official referendum timeline and guidelines on voter eligibility. In addition, the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau (SSRB) has sworn in the State Referendum High Committees and County Referendum Committees in the ten states of Southern Sudan, and has begun to hire and train registration workers. Voter registration materials and kits, purchased by USAID and UNDP respectively, arrived in country in late October and are being transported to registration centers at the county level as well as to out-of-country voting (OCV) locations. IOM has set up offices in all eight OCV countries and has identified registration locations in each. Long-term international observers from The Carter Center have arrived in Sudan and local observers are mobilizing to observe registration.
However, a number of steps will require progress in the coming weeks to keep the referendum on schedule, including the start of voter registration on November 15. The SSRC should complete identification of all registration center sites and work with the relevant governments to finalize security plans for registration and voting. The SSRB in the South and the SSRC in the North should complete the hiring, training, and deployment of approximately 11,000 referendum workers and finalize the set-up of registration centers. With the support of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), all voter registration materials should arrive in referendum centers in advance of registration. Domestic and international observers should be accredited and deployed. Meanwhile, the SSRC should finalize the design for the referendum ballot this month and place the order for voting materials so that they arrive and can be distributed to referendum centers in time for polling to begin on January 9.
Completing these steps will require adequate funding. The SSRC-approved budget for the referendum totals roughly US $370 million, of which the Government of National Unity (GoNU) in Khartoum and Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) in Juba will be expected to provide about US $179 million. Both the GoNU and GoSS have begun incrementally disbursing funds, but there remains a significant gap. It is critical that both governments provide the requisite funding to keep preparations moving forward. International donors, including the United States, UNMIS and the UNDP Referendum Basket Fund are providing substantial support through in-kind logistical and material assistance.
This graphic has been and will continue to be updated weekly to track the progress being made on these steps toward Southern Sudan’s referendum and ultimately toward a more peaceful and stable Sudan.