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 has worked 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.
With just two days until January 9, preparations are on track for an on-time start to polling. The courts have disposed of the final appeals to the voter roll, and the final voter roll should be finalized at each referendum center tomorrow. The SSRC and Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau have trained thousands of poll workers with assistance from the international community. Polling kits and ballots, procured respectively by USAID and UNDP, arrived in Sudan the week of December 20. With the support of UNMIS and UNDP, materials were distributed to the state and county-level, and then ultimately to the referendum centers.
The SSRC reports that it has accredited more than 8,000 observers belonging to 62 domestic organizations and about 600 observers belonging to international organizations and embassies. With support from USAID, the Sudanese Network for Democratic Elections and the Sudanese Group for Democracy and Elections will deploy a total of 2,500 observers across southern Sudan and 330 observers across the North to monitor polling. The Arab League, African Union, The Carter Center, European Union, IGAD, and the UN Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referendum will also have observation missions in Sudan.
The SSRC last month approved rules and regulations for polling, counting and the announcement of results. Immediately following the close of polls, results will be counted and announced on a rolling basis every other day: first by referendum centers, then County Sub-Committees, and then State High Committees. Overall preliminary results will then be announced by the SSRC. There will then be a short period for appeals, after which the SSRC will make the final results announcement.
Successfully completing the referendum process will require adequate funding. Both the Government of National Unity (GoNU) in Khartoum and Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) in Juba have disbursed some funds, but there continue to be outstanding needs. It is critical that both governments provide the requisite funding to allow the SSRC and SSRB to finalize their work, including paying referendum workers. International donors, including the United States and the United Nations, have provided substantial support through technical, logistical, and material assistance.
This graphic has been 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.