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Low voter registration turnout in South Sudan trigger extension calls.

By James Gatdet Dak November 6, 2009 (JUBA) -- Southern Sudan is hit by very low voters' registration turnout as the region prepares for its first post-war general elections due in six months.

Voters' registration for the Sudan's April 2010 elections began on November 1 all over the country and set to end on November 30. Officials of the semi-autonomous region say some of the registration centers in Southern Sudan have remained almost empty for the last one week while others with the maximum of less than a hundred voters to register per day as the turnout has been very low. Even in the capital, Juba, turnout has been very low with daily average of only 30 people according to registration team leaders. David Lukudu, a team leader at Naira Secondary School registration center revealed that his team had been registering an average of 15 people per day. Other centers reveal that for the last one week they have managed to register only 200 to 300 people, respectively. The Council of Ministers has resolved to request for 30 days extension of the registration exercise to try to mobilize and register a good number of voters, says the minister of Information and Broadcasting, Paul Mayom Akech. "Voters' registration is not going on as desired generally in Southern Sudan. There is practically difficulty," said the official spokesperson. In the Friday's Council of Ministers meeting chaired by President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the cabinet discussed the seriousness of the matter by identifying some of the main challenges and taking a number of measures to try to remedy the situation. Mayom enumerated the causes for the turnout failure ranging from lack of earlier voters' registration campaign and logistics, insecurity and unavailability of finances among others. He also added that the registration forms were availed by the National Elections Commission (NEC) in accordance with the rejected results of the Southern Sudan population consensus of 2008 and therefore were insufficient and could not reach many localities in the region. He called on NEC to avail the needed resources for the registration of voters. The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) ruled semi-autonomous government also complains about the registration exercise being dominated by members of the National Congress Party (NCP). According to the resolution, President Kiir will instruct the Speaker of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly to adjourn the parliamentary sessions and allow the members of parliament to travel to their respective constituencies and mobilize the people to register. A multi-political party ministerial committee comprising about eight ministers was also formed to move across the region to monitor the registration exercises. All the political parties were encouraged to mobilize their supporters to register. Kiir also reiterated his call on the state governors to allow all the political parties to freely carry out their activities in exercising their democratic rights. He earlier called on the potential voters to register irrespective of their political parties affiliations in order to vote into office leaders of their choices. "Vote for the leaders of your choice that will take you to referendum," he said. The ruling political party in the South, SPLM, had earlier declared its position to contest for all political seats in the country including the post of the incumbent President of the Republic Omer Hassan Al-Bashir. The interim period elections, brought about by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), serves as a milestone in the process of democratic transformation in the country, pending the conduct of January 2011 referendum in the South to either confirm the current unity of Sudan or create a separate independent country. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Date:Nov 7, 2009
Words:609
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