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Referendum Commission 'Encouraged' by Sudan Voter Registration

  • Peter Clottey

Southern Sudanese hold pro-independence banners as they march through the streets of the southern capital Juba, 09 Oct 2010

Southern Sudanese hold pro-independence banners as they march through the streets of the southern capital Juba, 09 Oct 2010

The spokesman for Sudan’s referendum commission told VOA his organization is encouraged by the increase in registration in the north because of what he described as an intensified media education campaign ahead of the 9th January referendum.

George Benjamin said the chief of the referendum commission has urged both the governing National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to create a favorable atmosphere so the vote is viewed as credible.

“Registration all over in the north, or the south, or in the Diaspora, is progressing pretty well. It is improving in the north. The figures are ticking up on a daily basis, which is a good sign of progress,” said Benjamin.

“I can attribute that to a number of factors; one of them, of course, is the improved media campaign situation. Having adopted new methods of intensifying work and media campaigns, and also some administrative measures the commission has undertaken based on some observations by the commission itself and by others, which they told the commission.”

Benjamin said the referendum commission is still working to resolve all outstanding issues in the run up to the January vote saying “perfection and the success of the referendum is our goal.”

Both the SPLM and the NCP have been trading accusations of intimidation and harassment of supporters in the ongoing voter registration process. The referendum commission is compiling a voter list to be used for the referendum.

Benjamin said the chairman of the referendum commission has encouraged both the SPLM and the NCP to ensure a favorable environment in the run up to the referendum.

“A high-level National Congress Party delegation visited the commission yesterday and they raised concerns and observations, and the commission members (had) a useful and exhaustive discussion on these matters. Of course, it was resolved that we are open to ideas given by people for observations.”

Recently, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the international community stands ready to provide further technical and logistical support to Sudan. He said the world body is working with both sides on a possible increase in security to handle violence before and after the election.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, if Sudan resolves the future of Abyei and recognizes the will of the southern Sudanese in January's vote, Washington is prepared to begin the process of removing Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

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