24 September 2010 – A three-day forum to discuss the role of Upper Nile State counties in Sudan's upcoming referenda ended on 24 September in Malakal with commissioners pledging support to a peaceful and credible process.
In his closing remarks to the representatives of Upper Nile State's 13 counties, Deputy Governor Andriya Maya said that outstanding issues, including financial and developmental matters, could be solved given peaceful and transparent referenda.
"We can share experience and challenges so the GoSS (Government of Southern Sudan) can be aware and give the county level more support," said Commissioner of Ulang County Peter Chuol Biel, while praising the forum for being informative.
Mr. Biel also expressed confidence in a smooth referendum process. "Everybody is waiting for the referendum and if there is no manipulation, I'm sure it will be successful," he said.
On the forum's last day, UNMIS representatives explained to participants the role of the UN Integrated Referendum and Elections Division tasked with logistics support and technical advice to the local authorities, and highlighted support to referendum security.
In closing the event, participants drew up recommendations including mobilization and training of voters. A county-level referendum committee was also scheduled to be established, and security forces deployed to protect voters and ensure access to the polling stations.
The forum that was hosted in Malakal's South Sudan Hotel by the Upper Nile Ministry of Local Government and Law Enforcement in partnership with the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Local Government Board, the UN Development Programme and UNMIS.