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.
Voter registration is made possible by the hard work of the SSRC, the CPA parties, the international community, and the citizens themselves. Over recent weeks, more than 3,000 referendum centers operated by more than 9,000 workers have opened worldwide, and more than 5,000 accredited domestic and international observers are in place to monitor this historic event.
Voter registration continued this week throughout Sudan and in eight other countries. On November 25, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) extended the registration period by one week to December 8. International observers, such as The Carter Center and the UN Monitoring Panel, have noted a generally peaceful process, with some logistical challenges and occasional irregularities.
Registration in the South continues to be peaceful, and referendum officials have addressed logistical issues, such as the need for more registration kits and books, quickly, In the North, turnout remains very low, though the SSRC has taken some measures to increase voter participation. Out of country voting and registration (OCVR) is underway in all eight countries specified in the Southern Sudan Referendum Act, despite initial delays in the US, Australia, and Egypt. Five additional SSRC-mandated centers in the United States and two new centers in Australia will be opened in the coming days.
Even while registration is ongoing, preparations for polling must begin. Additional staff will be needed to conduct polling, and it is critical to complete recruitment far enough in advance of polling to ensure that all staff receive appropriate training. Although procurement of ballots has been delayed, Sudanese and international stakeholders remain committed to a January 9 start to polling. Simultaneously, the SSRC must prepare for the upcoming registration list publication and challenge period that begin following the close of registration on December 8.
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 disbursed some 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 and the United Nations, 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.