17 December 2010 – With the southern self-determination referendum less than three weeks away, UNMIS and the Upper Nile State Referendum High Committee held a one-day workshop today in Akoka County on details of the poll.
The event targeted religious leaders, teachers, traditional chiefs and representatives of community-based organizations in Benthiang payam (township).
Topics discussed included referendum legislation, human rights violations during the polling and the role of youth, women, religious leaders and community-based organizations can play to promote a peaceful referendum.
The workshop was opened by Akoka County Deputy Commissioner Giela John Bol, who expressed his appreciation for the role played by UNMIS and the Upper Nile State Referendum High Committee in conducting the workshop.
“(The) referendum is not like the election, which can be done several times,” said Mr. Bol. “It is done once and for all.”
A similar workshop held in Malakal County on 14 December was opened by County Commissioner Chougi Abaj Ajang and State High Committee member James Daniel Chuang.
Commissioner Ajang called on the workshop’s participants to educate their communities about voting symbols that would appear on referendum ballot papers. “This referendum is going to be conducted once and it will not be repeated again.”
Adding that 60,000 voters had registered in Malakal County, Mr. Ajang promised that the government would provide transport to those who lived far from polling centres.
Mr. Chuang called on participants to behave peacefully during the polling. “If the referendum is not carried out in a fair and free atmosphere, the international community will not accept the outcome of the referendum.”