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. Registration at the last overseas sites concluded successfully on December 22. The Carter Center reported last week that registration was “credible” and “a strong step toward the successful conduct of the referendum.” Similarly, the UN Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referendum noted that the process “should help prepare the ground for a credible referendum on 9 January 2011.”
From December 10-17, each referendum center in Sudan was required to exhibit the preliminary voter register to allow people to submit corrections or objections. Now, until December 29, Considerations Committee at each center will review and dispose of all corrections and objections to produce a revised voter roll. Registered voters who are not satisfied with the decisions of the Consideration Committees then have the opportunity to file appeals at designated courts.
Preparations for polling are underway. The SSRC and Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau are hiring the additional staff needed to conduct polling. Training of workers for polling and counting is underway in southern Sudan, and began in Khartoum on December 22. The SSRC this week approved rules and regulations for polling, counting and the announcement of results. Polling kits and ballots, procured respectively by USAID and UNDP, arrived in Sudan this week, and distribution to the state-level is underway.
Completing the final steps to enable the start of polling will require adequate funding. The Government of National Unity (GoNU) in Khartoum and Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) in Juba are expected to provide financial support for the referendum. Both the GoNU and GoSS have disbursed some funds, but there remains a 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 technical, 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.