30 October 2010 – The international community have handed over voter registration kits, registration training books and other materials to Sudanese referendum authorities in Juba and Khartoum over the past two days.
To support voter registration in North Sudan, the UN Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division (UNIRED) and International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) handed over some 3,700 registration books and 3,800 training kits to the Southern Sudan Referendum Committee (SSRC) today at the National Elections Commission warehouse in southern Khartoum.
In Southern Sudan, UNIRED and IFES handed over some 3,160 registration kits yesterday to the Juba-based Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau. Some 29,100 voter registration books, 5,900 banners and other material were also handed over in support of referendum voter registration, expected to start on 15 November.
"I see now that there is real momentum with respect to the referendum. I want to reiterate that the United States' government is fully committed to the timely execution of the referenda," said Susan Fine, principal officer of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Juba, which funds IFES.
Addressing the handover ceremony in Khartoum, United States' Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration said, "It is wonderful to recognize this great milestone ... one step to enable (Southern Sudan) to hold the referendum on time."
Arrival and handover of the materials, a team effort of the international community and Sudanese authorities, was an important step towards full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Mr. Gration added.
Each voter registration booklet contains 200 voter registration cards, which will be given to registrants during the voter registration exercise. Registrants are required to present the card during polling, set to begin on 9 January.
"These materials were printed in South Africa, and they contain security features that make them very, very difficult to forge," Ms. Fine said.
Thanking the international community for its efforts at the Khartoum warehouse, SRSC Chairman Mohamed Khalil said the commission had about one-tenth of the time needed to complete the massive task of the referendum exercise.
With about two months left before the poll, the Southern Sudan self-determination referendum process is running behind schedule. According to the SSRC schedule, voter registration will conclude on 1 December and the final electoral register will be published on 4 January.
Upon completing the handover, the materials became the responsibility of the SSRC, which would then dispatch them to referendum State High Committees across the country, beginning in the coming days.
UNIRED Project Manager Azhar Malik in Juba said that UNMIS would be delivering by air registration materials to 130 locations that were inaccessible by road.
Training of SSRC staff who will register eligible voters started on 26 October. An estimated 8,000 will be trained in the south and 2,000 in the north. The training will conclude on 5 November.