13 October 2010 – Fifteen referendum sub-committee members from the Raja, Wau and Jur River counties in Western Bahr El Ghazal State were sworn in today at a ceremony in the State High Referendum Committee offices in the capital of Wau.
Justice Chan Reec Madut, chairperson of the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau, urged the sub-committee members to accelerate the process of identifying voter registration centres in their counties in time for the start of the registration exercise on 14 November.
"This referendum is a onetime chance in life, which will decide the future of those who are currently in the region as well as the future of the coming new generation," Mr. Madut told the sworn in officials.
"You need to exert maximum effort to conduct a credible and transparent referendum process in your respective area," he said, adding that the referendum was of paramount importance and would determine the future of the people of Southern Sudan.
Starting on 9 January, Southern Sudanese voters will cast ballots in a self-determination referendum on continued unity with or secession from the rest of the country. Residents of the oil-rich Abyei region will choose between staying with North Sudan or joining the country's 10 southern states if they opt for separation.
Mr. Madut, who also serves as deputy chairperson of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, said that referendum equipment from the international community had begun to arrive in the southern capital of Juba. Voter registration materials are expected to arrive from South Africa later this month.
Both referenda face a number of serious hurdles with less than 90 days before the start of voting. No referendum commission has yet been appointed for the Abyei region, and talks held in Addis Ababa between the National Congress Party and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement adjourned earlier this week without reaching any agreements.
Mr. Madut said the referendum bureau anticipated a number of logistical challenges owing to the vastness of Southern Sudan. But he also said he was confident that the balloting process would have adequate security arrangements.
He urged all eligible voters in Southern Sudan to register later this year and cast their ballots in January.