The view from Central Equatoria State

12 Apr 2010

The view from Central Equatoria State

Lagge James wasn't going to let anything get in the way of exercising his citizen's right to vote in Sudan's 2010 general election. The 26-year-old resident of the Central Equatoria State town of Mangalla stood in line for over six hours on Sunday to cast his ballot at the Ngwak polling station, and he later expressed satisfaction over having voted for the first time.

"My fellow youth and I in Southern Sudan didn't witness a democratic exercise (because) we grew up under war and tension," said Mr. James. "I just want to cast my vote for leaders who will lead our people justly and in the right direction politically, socially and economically."

Forty kilometers to the southwest in Juba, residents of the Southern Sudanese capital endured the same delays and opening-day glitches encountered by other voters throughout the country.

"I came here at 7 a.m. and waited so long before I voted," said Catherine Mbiko, 55. "I am tired, but they told us we should vote so that we elect good leaders who will lead us."

Ms. Mbiko said she was voting not for herself but for her children, who she hopes will be able to enjoy peace.

"We lost our children, our husbands, our brothers and sister but this was not enough to bring peace to our country," she noted. "As mothers, we are happier people today since we are making decisions that may bring the peace that the gun was not able to bring to this country."

Voting proceeded peacefully in both Central Equatoria State cities on Sunday, although the numbers of citizens who came to polling centres and stations in Juba on Monday appeared to be substantially down from the first day of balloting.

While the balloting was scheduled to end on Tuesday 13 April at 6 p.m. Sudanese time, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement called for an extension of the voting period until the evening of Saturday 17 April.

The NEC announced on Monday evening that voters would have another two days to cast their ballots until the polls closed on Thursday 15 April at 6 p.m.