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.
This week, voter registration began throughout Sudan and in several overseas locations. This is an important milestone made possible by the hard work of the SSRC, the CPA parties, and the international community. Over recent weeks, nearly 3,000 referendum centers have been established and more than 9,000 workers hired and trained. The SSRC has also approved the design and features of the referendum ballot, including the symbols that many illiterate voters will use to make their choice, allowing ballots and referendum materials to be ordered in a timely manner.
The Commission must now overcome challenges experienced in several overseas voting locations, including delayed starts and requests to add additional registration locations, while simultaneously preparing for the registration list publication and challenge period and for polling. Polling procedures must be finalized so that training materials can be prepared and training can commence well in advance of polling.
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 are expected to provide about US $179 million. Both the GoNU and GoSS have begun incrementally disbursing funds, but there still 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.