14 November, 2010 – Although the process had been delayed and voter information needed wider dissemination, referendum registration would begin tomorrow in North and Southern Sudan, the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) said today in Khartoum.
"We are three years behind," SSRC Chairman Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil told the media at the commission's headquarters, adding that the national body responsible for conducting Sudan's self-determination referendum scheduled for 9 January was working hard to measure up to the challenge despite time constraints.
Referendum voter registration would start simultaneously in North and Southern Sudan as well as abroad, the chairman said, pointing out that the outcome would be significant not only for the south but for the future of the whole country.
For the referendum process to be credible, it must be Sudanese-owned and national, Mr. Ibrahim said, adding that northern and southern Sudanese authorities had to work in unison.
The public should also be properly informed about the process, including voter eligibility as well as how and where to register, the chairman said. Although the list of voter registration centres (165 in the north and 2,628 in the south) and ballot samples – with two clasped hands symbolizing unity and one upheld hand for secession – had been previously distributed to Sudanese media, the population still needed to be more widely informed, he acknowledged.
Registration in some of the eight foreign countries to take part in the vote would kick off a few days later, commissioners said. The SSRC's partner, the International Organization for Migration, required more assets to establish the large number of registration centres planned for some countries, including the United States.
According to the timeline approved by the SSRC, registration will start on 15 November and continue until 1 December, followed by publication of the preliminary register and a week to submit objections at Sudanese courts.