A blind voter looks to a bright future in Wau

12 Apr 2010

A blind voter looks to a bright future in Wau

Balloting in the Western Bahr El Ghazal state capital of Wau began on time Monday morning, and among the voters who went to the polls on Day Two of Sudan's historic general election was Francis Fongo, a blind retiree of 67 who arrived in the company of his grandson at 9:30 a.m.

When he heard the noises and conversations of other voters at his designated polling station, Mr. Fongo shouted, "I am here, I came to vote for my government." He was led to a board where the names of registered voters had been posted, and a polling station monitor later helped Mr. Fongo with the actual casting of his ballot.

"I have never seen an election process like this one today," said Mr. Fongo afterwards. "It is quite difficult, I have been asked a lot of questions, and I had to vote 12 times."

A former inspector of horticulture at the state government's agriculture ministry, Mr. Fongo voted in the 1971 national referendum organized by the government of President Jaafar Nimeiri to seek the electorate's endorsement of the Sudanese leader. In that election, recalled Mr. Fongo, there were only two boxes marked "Yes" and "No," and soldiers forced voters to troop to the polls and vote for President Nimeiri.

In his judgment, the 2010 general election is a significant improvement over the plebiscite that he witnessed 39 years ago. "If this is how an election is done, I think this country is going to be a real country in Africa," said Mr. Fongo, adding that all Sudanese should take the current balloting seriously and vote for the right leaders who can bring peace, stability and security to the people of southern Sudan.

"Thanks be to God that we have the peace agreement that stipulated the time for elections," he concluded. "The people we are voting for are the people who are concerned about our problems and sufferings. Things will not be the same as we had in the past."