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Sudan Referendum Commission Monitors Voter Registration among Diaspora

  • Peter Clottey

Residents of the remote south central Southern Sudan village of Nyal line up to register their names at a local school being used as a voter registration office, 15 Nov 2010.

Residents of the remote south central Southern Sudan village of Nyal line up to register their names at a local school being used as a voter registration office, 15 Nov 2010.

The spokesman for Sudan’s referendum commission told VOA a delegation of commissioners from the organization will visit the United States to monitor the voter registration process among Sudanese living in America.

George Benjamin said the commission is interested in how the registration process is going, not just in Sudan, but among the Diaspora in the run up to the 9th January referendum.

“There is a delegation of the southern Sudan referendum commission that is going to proceed to the United States, probably in the coming two days. Also, similar delegations have gone to seven other countries where the referendum process is being organized,” said Benjamin.

“The reason for the visit is to go and see how things are moving (forward) in terms of how the referendum is being organized by the IOM (International Organization for Migration) together with the southern Sudanese communities in the States, and to see how the process of registration in that country has gone, and to see if there are any other problems that they may attend to. They can do it on the spot.”

Officials of the commission are expected to visit registration centers in Washington, D.C., Omaha, Nebraska, and Phoenix, Arizona. The referendum commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the IOM to open registration centers in eight countries.

Benjamin said the referendum commission is so far pleased with the progress of the ongoing voter registration process.

“The commission is satisfied with the ongoing process with the registration all over the country in Sudan and also abroad. Of course, in the south, it is going on very well (and), in the north it is picking up very gradually and really very promising, and it is not like what is going on in the south. In other countries, it is also going well.”

Both the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) have traded accusations of intimidation and harassment of supporters in the registration process.

Sudanese officials say they will give southerners an extra week to register for the January referendum that will decide if southern Sudan becomes an independent country.

The commission says southern Sudanese now have until 8th December to register. Commission members cited delays in the voter registration process as a reason for the extension.

Officials estimate about five million southern Sudanese are eligible to vote, including those living in the north, and at least 500,000 abroad. The referendum commission said this week it has registered at least 1.3 million southern voters.

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