There was a definite buzz in the air at the polling centre located at the Abogesesa School in Malakal on the first day of voting in Sudan’s historic general election. Excited voters began to queue outside the facility as early as 6 a.m. on Sunday, two hours before the polling centre was scheduled to open.
“This is my first time to vote and I’m so happy,” said Veronica Amum, a nurse at the Malakal Teaching Hospital who was among the first voters to arrive at the Abogesesa School along with her colleague Lina Yor. “I want to see change in my country. I hope there will be reconciliation and people will live in peace.”
Unfortunately, the excitement was somewhat dampened by the delay in the delivery of ballot papers and boxes to the polling centre. Some local residents started to become anxious as they waited for the actual voting to commence.
Similar delays were reported at other polling centres and stations in Malakal. A senior polling centre officer in the city’s Hai Denka constituency blamed the delays on an inadequate supply of vehicles available to the Upper Nile State High Committee for the delivery of materials on Sunday morning.
Ballot papers and boxes arrived in the Hai Denka constituency at 10 a.m., and the polling centre officers began to open the boxes in the presence of accredited political party representatives.
Balloting got underway at 11:30 a.m. in the Shaab Primary School polling centre in the Central Malakal district of the Upper Nile State capital. One of the voters who had already cast his ballots said he was relieved to have exercised his democratic rights today. “I hope Sudan will be peaceful after the election,” said Deng Chol as he displayed a finger that had been coloured by ink to indicate that he had voted.
Some Malakal residents were dismayed to find that their names did not appear on the lists of registered voters posted outside polling centres and stations. But election officials promised to start on time on Monday morning and sort out the procedural and logistical hiccups that arose on Day One of Sudan’s first multi-party general election in 24 years.