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.
On December 8, voter registration concluded in Sudan and in most overseas locations. Out-of-country registration in Australia, Egypt, and Canada has been extended to account for days missed due to delays in opening. Registration at five new sites in the United States opened during the registration period will continue until December 22. The registration process was peaceful and well-managed, despite minor logistical challenges and the tight timeline. The SSRC accredited more than 5,000 domestic and international observers for the registration process. Preliminary voter registration figures are now coming in from centers across Sudan.
Preparations for polling have already begun. The SSRC and Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau have begun hiring the additional staff that will be needed to conduct polling. Training of workers for polling and counting will start in Juba over the next week. The ballots and other critical polling materials have been procured and are scheduled to arrive in Sudan in time for a January 9 start to polling.
The voter registration exhibition and challenge period has begun. The exhibition of the voter register at Referendum Centers allows for objections and corrections to the voter roll through December 17th. This period will be followed by the review of those objections at the local Referendum Centers and then time for appeals and disposals of objections by the courts before the publication of the rectified voter register on January 8. This process will be overseen by domestic and international observers.
Completing these steps will require adequate funding. 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.