5 October 2010 - To discuss preparations for the upcoming referenda, representatives of Japan met today with the Western Bahr El-Ghazal State High Committee for Referendum and UN officials in Wau.
Team head and Director for the Secretariat of the International Peace Cooperation at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Ryuichi Hirano said that their aim was to see free, fair, transparent and timely referenda.
"So, for that purpose we would like to send a team to observe the process, which is a final phase of the peace process," he said.
Japan plans to send a 15-member team to watch over the polls.
With less than 100 days left until the self-determination referendum in the south and the vote in Abyei to determine its allegiance to north or south, the US-based Carter Center has already deployed 16 international observers to monitor voter registration, polling and tabulation.
In addition, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has appointed a three-member referenda-monitoring panel.
Takehiro Shimada, Director of International Peace Cooperation Division at Japan's Foreign Policy Bureau, said his government had given more than $8 million to the UN Development Programme for referenda preparations.
"We are sure that with the help of our international partners and the United Nations Mission in Sudan, we will conduct the process successfully," said Wol Madut Chan, Chairperson of the State High Committee for Referendum.
Different substantive units in UNMIS briefed the eight-member delegation on general preparations for the referenda as well as the challenges and security situation.
"We will offer logistical, technical and security support to the process and we hope to see every eligible citizen in the south cast their vote peacefully and freely," said Ibrahima Ndiaye, Sector Coordinator for UNMIS.
The team has also visited Upper Nile State and Central Equatoria State. The Japanese observer team is expected in Sudan in late December.