11 January 2011 - As the Southern Sudan self-determination referendum entered its third day, a top polling official said initial results from the region could be announced by the end of the month.
Speaking at a press conference in Juba, Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau Chairperson Justice Chan Reec Madut said counting would begin on 15 January after polling had stopped. "We expect the preliminary results from Southern Sudan to be announced by 31 January, if everything goes well."
He added that polling hours in the south had been extended by one hour to end at 6 p.m.
Justice Madut noted that polling was progressing well in Australia, Canada and Kenya, although he had received no official report. In addition to those three, voting is ongoing in the five diaspora countries of Ethiopia, United States, United Kingdom, Uganda and Egypt.
In Southern Sudan, votes had reached high numbers in many areas by the third day. In Northern Bahr El- Ghazal, polling officials reported that the majority of voters had cast their ballots.
Officials from Akuam Town in the state's Aweil East County said most registered voters in their centres had cast their ballots in the first two days of balloting, accounting for the low turnout and sometimes empty centres on the third.
In Aboul, a small village outside the capital Aweil, very few voters queued at the Aboul Elementary School Polling Centre. Of those gathered, 18-year-old Mariel Akel said he was happy to cast his ballot and continue his studies peacefully.
In the Upper Nile State capital of Malakal, Dengershufu Polling Centre Chairperson Ayuok Samuel said 2,036 voters out of 2,779 registered had voted. He attributed the high turnout to megaphone announcements advising voters to come forward now that the centre was no longer congested.
New mothers and sick voters turned up in larger numbers to cast their ballots. Nursing a swollen hand, 31-year-old Chwajwok Othow Akwong said she choose the third day to vote because the queues were much shorter. "I came to vote because I have registered," Ms. Chwajwok said. "I cannot keep the (voter) card in the house just because I am sick."