News / Africa

Excitement, Nervousness as South Sudan Prepares for Independence Vote

A Sudanese man cheers during a demonstration in support of the referendum on southern independence during a rally organized by the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau in Juba, 07 Jan 2011.
A Sudanese man cheers during a demonstration in support of the referendum on southern independence during a rally organized by the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau in Juba, 07 Jan 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +

Nearly four million southern Sudanese are preparing to go to the polls beginning Sunday. During the week-long polling, they are to choose whether to remain a part of Africa’s largest country or break away to form the continent’s newest nation.

Southern Sudanese paraded through the streets Friday on the final day of campaigning before Sunday’s vote.

After decades of conflict that cost an estimated two million lives and choked most economic development, voters are to choose whether to remain united with northern Sudan or secede to form their own nation.

If the posters and rallies on the dusty streets of this provincial capital are an indication, most voters appear likely to choose separation.

David Gressly heads the United Nations mission in southern Sudan. He told VOA that everything was ready.

"[Voting] materials have been delivered. Training is underway for the final wave of polling workers. That should be completed on time,” he said. “The security situation is calm. It’s been calm for a number of weeks. So we think this is going to start on time. It will go very peacefully."

More than 26,000 voting centers across the region are to open from Sunday until next Saturday to allow every eligible voter to participate.

The referendum is the result of an agreement six years ago that ended the civil war. It brought regional autonomy to southern Sudan which historically has had greater cultural and economic ties to East Africa than to the Arab-led government thousands of kilometers to the north.

Many northern Sudanese are nervous about a possible secession and have urged southerners to remain united.

But many southerners feel their region has been unfairly treated by Khartoum and separation will allow more equitable development here.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited Juba Tuesday and said his government would respect the results.

He says at this moment of self-determination we want the process to be peaceful, transparent and free. And whether the results bring unity or secession the people should accept it in good spirit.

Hundreds of observers from Sudan and around the world have gathered for the vote.

The head of the advance monitoring team of the U.S.-based Carter Center, Sarah Johnson, acknowledged the worries calling it a historic moment that would cause anxiety anywhere.

"In the lead-up to any electoral process and any election there is a bit of increase in tensions,” Johnson said. “That’s true in any country as everyone anticipates the vote. However, we have every reason to believe that things will go forward in a smooth manner."

Official results are not due for several weeks but preliminary tallies are expected sooner as returns are tabulated and announced at polling centers.

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid