8 December 2010 – The last day of voter registration for Southern Sudan’s much anticipated referendum saw lengthy queues in some centres, as last minute returnees from the north and neighbouring countries rushed to meet the deadline.
“I live and work in Kampala,” said Betty (who provided only one name) at Gumbo Registration Centre. “As today is the last day … I came to get registered in my village because I plan to come here permanently if everything goes well.”
Newly arrived university students from Khartoum were among those who swamped registration centres for the self-determination vote, scheduled for 9 January, in the regional capital of Juba.
Jaclyn Peter Samuel, a student at Juba University in Khartoum, said she headed straight to St. Bakhita Registration Centre immediately after she arrived. “I … came here immediately after dropping my luggage at home.”
Some 150 students who had also just arrived from the north gathered at Juba’s John Garang Mausoleum Registration Center to register. “We are very happy that we are back at our home in time to get registered and realize our rights,” said student John Dau.
Many other university students from Khartoum arrived in Juba and other Southern Sudanese towns to meet the registration deadline.
“Many (more) people are coming today for the registration than yesterday and the days before,” said Jada Clement, chairperson of St Pakhita referendum registration centre. “Most of the people we are registering today came from Khartoum and some other areas in the north.”
Some Juba registration centres remained relatively quiet. Simon Peter Abire, chairman of Kator B Court Registration Center, said registration at his center had gone well, but that only 40 voters had appeared on 7 December.
During a closing ceremony at the John Garang Mausoleum, Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau Chairman Justice Chan Reec Madut said registration in general had run smoothly. He expressed confidence that ballot papers for the poll would arrive on time.