MaximsNewsNetwork: SUDAN - CONCERN ABOUT LOW VOTER REGISTRATION in NORTH (UNMIS)
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Uploaded on Nov 22, 2010
MaximsNewsNetwork: 22 November 2010 -- UNMIS: Sudan -- The Chairman of the United Nations (UN) panel tasked with monitoring the Referenda in Sudan has expressed concern in low numbers of voter registrations in the northern part of the country for a southern Sudan referendum expected to take place starting 9 January 2011, saying that it hopes that the numbers can be stepped up; speaking on Monday after meeting with Sudan's Second Vide President Osman Ali Taha, the Chairperson of the Panel on the Referenda in Sudan, Benjamin Mkapa said many Southern Sudanese appeared to be uninterested or unwilling to register due to multiple reasons including the lack of a public information campaign about the process.
Voter registration began on 15 November at nearly 3,000 sites across Sudan for the referendum scheduled for 9 January next year on whether southern Sudan should secede from the rest of the country or remain united with it.
Speaking later at a press conference Mkapa said that another reason for concern was the uncertain future status of southerner's living in the North. He said it was important for the public to feel secure enough to turn out to register and vote without a fear of any repercussion.
In reference to the Abyei referendum, he reiterated that the referendum commission was yet to be established and relations between the Miseriya and Dinka tribes living in the Abyei area remained tense.
This was the Panel's second visit to Sudan. They visited nine voter registration sites in four states over 10 days and met with senior government officials, referendum authorities, religious leaders, NGOs, political parties, the diplomatic community and many other regular citizens.
The Panel is playing a good offices role on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to strengthen confidence in the Sudanese-led referenda process, and to encourage the parties and relevant authorities to resolve any significant problems or disputes as they emerge.
The people of southern Sudan are scheduled to vote on 9 January on whether the south should secede from the rest of the country, while the final status of Abyei will be determined in a separate vote on the same day, as set out in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended two decades of war between the North and the South.
SOUNDBITE (English) Benjamin Mkapa, Secretary General's Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan:
"When we here last we expressed concern that the arrangements were far from filled, from the commencement of the exercise. When we retuned, they were possible to mount all the ingredients into allowing the process to start. It has started, the security situations around the centers is calm. The turn out is reasonable but I think it should stepped up, and we will see".
"It is important that clarity on the post-referendum status of Southerners in the North and Northerners in the South is reached as soon as possible. Leaders in both the North and the South will also have to make more efforts to reassure people that their safety, property and rights are protected. The rhetoric by all parties must also be toned down".
"We urge all sides in Abyei not to loose faith and to remember that their problems can be only resolved through peaceful dialogue."
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