5 January 2011 - UNMIS Sector Coordinator Hendrik Bruyn today officially opened the first UNMIS Referendum Support Base (RSB) in Renk County, Upper Nile State.
Participants at the inauguration included Renk County Commissioner Deng Akueu and UNMIS Sector Administrative Officer Thadeus Boyle.
“In Upper Nile State, besides Renk there are also RSBs in Balliet and Maban counties,” said Mr. Boyle, “Tomorrow (6 January) we will visit the RSB in Balliet to make sure it’s up and running for the referendum.”
The purpose of the RSBs is to help UNMIS monitor the referendum process and provide logistical support and technical advice at county level.
“We are here to assist and support the referendum sub-committee,” noted Mr. Bruyn. “We hope the referendum will go peacefully and UNMIS will support whatever the outcome is.”
Southern Sudanese are expected to participate in an independence referendum on 9 January.
Thanking UNMIS for its referendum support, Commissioner Deng said, “Renk lies in the border between north and south, so we need UNMIS presence after the referendum and we will also give support to UNMIS.”
UNMIS currently has 11 RSBs across Southern Sudan, and expects to have 19 before the end of the week.
In Melut County, UNMIS held an information day on the referendum for 40 participants, where participants were informed about the role of UNMIS as well as gender and human rights issues.
Speaking at the event, County Commissioner Akoch Teng said that communities had shown confidence in participants by selecting them to participate in the workshop. He urged them to share what they had learnt with their communities.
Participant Bol Maker Bol, member of the local youth forum, promised to urge his young people to vote. “We will do our very best as a youth forum to inform the people on how to vote and reduce spoiled ballots by showing them how to fold the paper.”
At a separate event, UNMIS officials launched a Miraya FM transmitter in Renk County.
“The radio signal is 250 watts and that should be able to reach beyond 30 kilometres radius,” said Radio Producer OthelloYarsiah, who works for Miraya in Malakal.
Commissioner Deng said he was pleased that Miraya had finally reached Renk, urging residents to tune in and listen to referendum broadcasts transmitted by the UN radio.