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Registration Campaign Was Successful, Says Southern Sudanese Opposition Party

Sudan’s voter registration exercise took place during the month of November, but there are still concerns about voter education and mobilization. Some say all three exercises have been hampered by concerns about security, and by the difficulty of distributing education materials to the many areas of Southern Sudan inaccessible by road.

One of the political parties contesting the leadership of the government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) is the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement- Democratic Change (SPLM-DC). It severed relations last year with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

“After our intervention in the registration exercise a lot of people took up the challenge to register to vote,” said Charles Kisanga the secretary general of SPLM-DC from the Southern Sudanese capital, Juba.

He said the party activists told people about the importance of registering, because it’s their vote that will determine who’ll govern them.

The SPLM-DC’s candidate for president of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) is Dr. Lam Akol. He is competing for the post against incumbent president Salva Kiir of the SPLM.

“Before our intervention, people thought that they were registering to confirm the [continuing rule of the] SPLM in office, and that’s why they were not keen on registering,” he said. He, however, described the voter registration exercise as successful.

Kisanga said there are still some unsafe areas of the south. “We haven’t gone to the remote areas yet, but in the major towns the [security] situation is not bad because of the presence of observers, the UN mission personnel, and electoral commission officials.”

He said they expect security challenges in rural areas. In those remote areas, he said, “there are reports of intimidation and harassment by the SPLM.”

Kisanga cited areas such as Torit in Eastern Equatoria State and northern Bahr El-Ghaza State where party vehicles were seized by the Government of Southern Sudan. He also mentioned problems in Rumbek in Lakes State where he said “all our election materials including our posters have been confiscated and our supporters are not allowed to display posters of our presidential candidate for GoSS.”

He said despite the challenges he remains optimistic. “We can’t say it is entirely safe. But of course the fight for democracy and freedom needs sacrifices and we have to face the challenge.”