01 November 2010 – Despite serious infrastructure challenges in Southern Sudan, UNMIS was aiming to distribute referendum registration materials to state capitals within a maximum of 21 days, a top UN official said in Khartoum today.
Referendum registration training materials and registration books, which had been arriving at UNMIS since 23 October, would be delivered in good time, said Denis Kadima, head of the UN Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division (UNIRED), speaking at a press conference at mission headquarters.
UNMIS had begun distributing materials and would finish dispatching them to state capitals within three weeks, he added. The Juba-based Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau and Southern Sudan Referendum Commission in Khartoum would then distribute materials to registration centres across all states.
One of the greatest challenges UNMIS was facing in supporting Sudanese authorities to conduct the self-determination referendum on time and in a peaceful manner was a tight timeline, the UNIRED head said.
[Voter registration is set to run from 15 November to 1 December, while the poll itself will begin on 9 January 2011. A second self-determination poll is scheduled on the same date for the Abyei Area.]
While road transport in other countries might be sufficient to dispatch referendum registration materials, Sudan’s state of infrastructure and large size meant also using planes and helicopters to distribute and retrieve materials in a timely manner, he added.
Responding to a question, Mr. Kadima said the mission’s hope that Sudan’s referenda would be held on time rested on the commitment of the Sudanese parties, who own the referenda process, to do so.
In supporting the exercise, $63 million had been pledged to the UN Development Programme referendum basket fund by donor countries, half of which had already been received, Mr. Kadima said.